Sector responds to triggering of Article 50
As the UK government triggered Article 50 to begin the formal process of the UK exiting the European Union, the RICS has called on the property and construction industry to take responsibility for making Brexit work while RIBA has acted to assure UK based architects that it “has their back”.
The President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Jane Duncan, has written to all United Kingdom based members of the RIBA to offer her assurances that the Institute will continue to support them and serve as a strong voice for the profession as the nations of the UK navigate a new relationship with the EU and the rest of the world.
Ms Duncan wrote “RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance and I have been regularly meeting with Government ministers to take your thoughts and concerns right to the heart of Government. We have taken the invaluable feedback you provided in our recent Brexit survey to produce the Global by Design report, which will help shape these conversations going forward. I was encouraged that mutual recognition of professional qualifications, a key concern for many of you, was recognised within the government’s Brexit White Paper.
“EU citizens, from outside the UK – people who we count as colleagues, friends and family - make a significant contribution to our profession. We would like to assure these colleagues that we are continuing to press government to ensure your rights are protected as a matter of priority.
“The RIBA has also been working with colleagues across the built environment and the creative industries. In September, I joined fellow Presidents from the Chartered Institute of Building, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Royal Town Planning Institute to set out key asks for our sector. We have also been working with leading creative bodies and businesses as a member of the Creative Industries Council, and with other professional services organisations via the government’s Professional and Business Services Council to ensure that your views are reflected and listened to.
“The RIBA is a strong voice because it is a collective voice, and we will continue to represent you, to fight for your rights and future prosperity and we will champion your talents across the UK, Europe and the world.”
RICS head of UK policy, Jeremy Blackburn, said: “The triggering of Article 50 has set Britain on a course to exit the European Union. It is essential now that government and industry work together to get the best deal possible and ensure our country’s future growth and prosperity. It is everyone’s responsibility to make Brexit work.
“Britain must retain its front line position on the international stage. Delivering the airport hubs, high-speed rail networks and energy systems needed to make our cities and industrial hubs global competitors will be critical to our future success. However, it is unrealistic to expect government to deliver a successful Brexit without the full – if sometimes constructive – support of industry.
“Unless the free movement of skilled labour is secured during negotiations, we believe that the UK’s predicted £500 billion infrastructure pipeline may be under threat. Our latest figures show that eight per cent of the UK’s construction workers are EU nationals, accounting for some 176,500 people. A loss of access to the European labour market has the potential to slowly bring some of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects to a standstill.
“Yet while it is the role of government to secure the trade agreement, industry must also work to secure the domestic skills pipeline. As the industry’s professional body, we are working with government and industry to develop that skills base, building vital initiatives, such as degree apprenticeships, in our sector to drive the talent pipeline forward. A recent RICS survey revealed worrying figures showing that almost a quarter of our construction professionals fail to recognise the benefits of apprenticeships in solving the skills crisis. It is vital that industry gets behind such schemes for Britain’s long-term good.
“Earlier this week Qatar pledged to invest £5bn in British transport and construction projects. We believe that if the Government puts the right incentives in place, the UK’s energy, rail and road infrastructure will benefit from further billions of overseas investment.
“But again, industry must also play its part. Currently infrastructure projects across the globe measure and forecast the costs of construction differently. So exactly the same high-speed rail project in say Spain, would have an entirely different projected cost if it were located in the UK even after accounting for currency differences or regional labour and material costs.
“RICS is working with industry partners to introduce a new standardised global measurement known as International Construction Measurement Standard (ICMS) that will allow investors to compare like with like. We believe that this will help to put infrastructure firmly on the map as a global investment opportunity.
“Together the government and industry must work together to deliver a construction industry that is robust enough to withstand any future political and economic uncertainty.”