As the UK political establishment settles down after the EU Referendum (post) and the resulting spate of resignations and changes of office, the UK construction sector is now beginning to identify the new figures who will be leading key initiatives on areas such as housebuilding and planning, construction strategy, and skills.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet reshuffle saw a plethora of new appointments, and as the various Cabinet ministers have begun to settle into their portfolios and some tasks have been moved between ministries, various junior minister posts have also been finalised.
Succeeding Nick Boles, Harlow MP Robert Halfon is the new apprentices and skills minister, appointed by education secretary Justine Greening – the skills brief having been moved from the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS, now the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, BEIS). Halfon appears well-suited to his new brief. He employed the first parliamentary apprentice, and says he has “led from the front in championing apprenticeships.” We assume he will be taking responsibility for pushing forward the Government’s Post-16 Skills Plan, its response to the Sainsbury Review, published last week (post).
From our point of view on the SkillsPlanner project, another key appointment has been Croydon MP Gavin Barwell, appointed the new housing and planning minister in the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). Barwell is also minister for London; our two-year SkillsPlanner project is strongly focused on London and the southeast, and we expect Barwell will be working closely with London Mayor Sadiq Khan (post).
And, Cabinet Office minister Ben Gummer, MP for Ipswich, will oversee the government’s own construction strategy (post) and programme, lead on its procurement policy, and also look at digital transformation of government. The latter particularly interests SkillsPlanner; data, much of it provided by government or government-funded organisations and projects, is at the core of our open linked data platform, and the wider construction industry is also engaged in a deeper digital shift outlined in the February 2015 Digital Built Britain strategy (post).
Update (1 August 2016) – At BEIS, Jesse Norman MP, minister for industry and energy, will be responsible for industrial policy covering infrastructure and construction.