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New £420m construction sector deal to spur ‘bytes and mortar revolution’

A new joint government-industry sector deal worth £420m was launched today with the aim of transforming construction through innovative technologies and increasing productivity to help Whitehall deliver its pledge to build 1.5 million homes by 2022.

The partnership, which was announced today at the Northern Powerhouse Summit in Newcastle by business and energy secretary Greg Clark, will see a “bytes and mortar” revolution to utilise digital design and offsite manufacturing in an effort to transform the construction sector.

The deal will also support the Clean Growth Grand Challenge, which aims to halve energy the consumption of new builds by 2030 in order to reduce energy bills.

It will bring together the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors in order to work towards the common goals of building safer, greener and more affordable homes. The government also said that the deal will deliver 25,000 construction apprenticeship starts and 1,000 construction T-Level placements by 2020.

Clark said: “The construction industry is fundamental to growing our economy as we build to invest in our future. Major infrastructure projects like HS2 and the commitment to deliver 1.5 million homes by 2022 mean that we need a construction sector that can drive innovation, delivering homes and infrastructure quicker.”

He noted that buildings account for roughly 30% of emissions, so it’s important that the UK is at the forefront of constructing “smart, energy efficient and affordable” homes.

“This Sector Deal is supported by the biggest government investment in construction for at least a decade and will drive economic growth and create well-paid highly-skilled jobs in every part of the UK,” Clark argued.

Andrew Wolstenholme, co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, added: “Securing this deal sends out a statement about the vital contribution our sector makes to the country. Our industry builds the schools to educate the young, the hospitals to care for the sick, the police stations to keep us safe, the roads and railways that get us to work, the power stations that keep us warm and the homes we return to each day.”

Jonathan White, UK head of infrastructure, building and construction at KPMG, said:“The deal rightly identifies a lack of digital investment and low profit margins as issues in the sector, yet the two are intertwined.

"With slim margins, firms find it difficult to prioritise tech, but without this investment they are unlikely to boost their productivity. The new funding will be welcomed to help finance this step-change."

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