The government is right to seek to harness the role of small and medium-sized construction companies in driving economic growth, the chief executive officer of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has said.
Brian Berry made the comments in response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech on 11 September, which set out what the government called the ‘three principles for delivering a smarter state’.
These principles encompassed reform, devolution and efficiency, and his speech suggested an intention to run the country’s public services in a manner closer to that of a business than is currently the case.
“Businesses are always looking at ways to streamline their functions so they can become more effective. I would argue it’s an imperative – a moral imperative – for government to do the same. When money is tight, it’s simply unforgiveable to waste taxpayers’ money,” Mr Cameron said.
“More than that, efficient government can actually help with our progressive goals. Opening up contracts to small businesses spreads entrepreneurship and drives innovation. Closing down government offices and releasing government land can help build more homes and spread home ownership.
Mr Berry agreed that small and medium-sized construction companies are important to the country’s future economic success, but their influence has in the past been stifled by unnecessary obstructions to development.
He said: “Smaller companies can play a vital role in delivering the government’s ambitions for a ‘smarter state'. Small construction firms boost local growth and job creation, and train the majority of new apprentices in the industry.
“However, smaller firms are often put at a disadvantage when it comes to crucial areas such as public tendering and delivery of new housing.
“The Prime Minister says ‘what energises many markets are new insurgent companies, who break monopolies and bring in new ways of doing things’; this is especially true of the house building industry.”
“The plans to put Ministry of Defence land, government and local council buildings up for sale with planning permissions already granted is exactly the kind of welcome move which can provide opportunities for small firms and new entrants,” he added.