The rapid resolution of the Conservative leadership contest and the installation of Theresa May as Prime Minister has helped reduce the political and economic uncertainty facing the UK and the construction industry.
What is the new Government likely to hold in store for the construction industry?
The May administration appears set to press on with Conservative’s Manifesto commitments, on which it was elected just over a year ago. In addition, her initial speech as Prime Minister has highlighted social justice, “building a better Britain” and “forging a bold new, positive role” for Britain outside the EU as the broad direction of travel for of the new administration.
Previous comments by the new Prime Minister provide an indication of how specific construction related policies are likely to fit into this broader strategy:
“Unless we deal with the housing deficit, we will see house prices keep on rising. Young people will find it even harder to afford their own home. The divide between those who inherit wealth and those who don’t will become more pronounced.” The Government is likely to press on with the delivery of two key housing policies set out in it manifesto: starter homes and extending the Right to Buy to housing association tenants in England. The Government may also look to further planning reforms to increase the supply of development land.
“I want to see an energy policy that emphasises the reliability of supply and lower costs for users.” This could be interpreted as a new “dash for gas” with investment in gas fired power stations to replace generating capacity being lost over the next few years as aging coal fired and nuclear plants are retired.
Airport capacity in the South East
Patrick McLoughlin as Transport secretary has already pushed back a decision on Heathrow expansion until the autumn. Mrs May, whose Maidenhead constituency is in the flight path of the west London airport, was critical of the original proposals put forward when Labour was in power. New members of her cabinet, including Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson are likely to favour the Gatwick alternative.
High Speed 2
Mrs May is in favour of the High Speed 2 rail link.
Watch this space. The new Prime Minster has been supportive of Free Schools and, in the past, local authorities freedom to reintroduce Grammar Schools. “School reform is ... a passion for so many Conservatives – and I will be setting out my own plans for schools policy in the coming weeks.” Any reforms will also need to ensure that the education system can effectively provide the additional capacity to accommodate rising pupil numbers.