The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) fought tirelessly on behalf of members throughout 2019. Around the country, our members face challenges in the business and regulatory environment that stymie their efforts to deliver the housing and infrastructure the economy requires.
Since the beginning of 2019, we have engaged with the Government to ensure that the commitments they have made in housing and infrastructure are delivered. It’s easily forgotten that before 2016, infrastructure investment was the lowest in the EU. With the advent of the €116 National Development Plan, with significant input from the CIF, the Government has significantly increased its commitment. If delivered the NDP will transform Irish society and put the industry on a sustainable footing for the next 20 years.
However, CIF have reported low levels of activity outside the Greater Dublin Area. A national crane count mid-year showed that Dublin’s skyline boasted over 120 cranes. Cork had 6, Limerick 2, and Galway 2. Whilst CIF members are gearing up to increase housing supply by 35% on average between 2014-2018, we are still far below the 35,000 output per annum required to meet Ireland’s rapidly growing and ageing population. Outside the GDA, housing is not recovering and this will only exacerbate the trend of migration towards the capital. In the latter part of the year, we have noticed a slowdown in commencements of infrastructure projects.
A number of political issues on major projects has led to a paralysis in the public sector. This is not helped by the ongoing saga that is reform in the public sector procurement. The CIF has proposed amendments to the Government’s contract and its procurement system. There is too much consultation and not enough progress in this area. The CIF will continue to press the OGP and DPER to amend procurement so a fairer, more efficient procurement system is put in place.
This should help the industry and its SMEs to secure work but also the taxpayer as projects are delivered on time and on budget.
Our CIF regional branch network has been in overdrive to make the case that a strong economy and society requires dynamic regional economies. Improved infrastructure remains the key to the balanced regional development envisaged in the National Planning Framework. Our president, Pat Lucey is calling on all our regions to band together to make a compelling, coherent and cogent case for the regions to secure their fair share of NDP funding. In 2020, the CIF will lead that charge and make it impossible for the regions to be ignored.
The CIF will continue to highlight where there are still blockages in the system preventing the delivery of construction activity. In our budget submission and meeting with the Minister for Finance, and other Ministers, we identified the fact that many agencies of the state are inadequately motivated, resourced and aligned behind Rebuilding Ireland, the NDP and the National Planning Framework. The EPA, Local Authorities, the OGP, SOLAS, Irish Water and Bord Pleanala and many other agencies that can affect housing and infrastructure delivery all need to be directed and resourced to facilitate construction and to engage with industry in a positive manner.
I am proud of the work done by our numerous policy-committees and sub-groups. These groups provide the intellectual horsepower to the CIF that helps us generate policy recommendations that Government more often than not have to adopt. Equally important are the CIF’s sectoral associations such as the MBCA, CECA, IHBA, ASCA and M&ECA who have delivered for their constituent sectors and the wider industry.
This year, the CIF launched a diversity and inclusion Charter for members. This is part of our #BuildingEquality campaign ongoing for the past number of years. I encourage you to sign up to the charter and talk to our learning and development section to help you ensure your company is adopting best practice in diversity and inclusion.
This year safety was again paramount for the CIF and its members. The CIF has worked closely with members to address safety issues. This year’s Safety Week campaign featured Rory from Rory’s Stories and focussed on promoting safety amongst smaller contractors and housebuilders.
I’m delighted that I can report that the CIF has begun its national careers in construction campaign. In 2019, we will begin to engage with schools in a structured way in what will be the most comprehensive outreach this industry has ever done. Expect to hear school-goers talking about the campaign throughout 2020 as we generate a buzz around the industry again!
Finally, thank you, our members, for your support for the CIF. It’s your involvement that makes the CIF so effective as a business representative body with such influence at national and local levels. I look forward to working with you throughout 2019.