Small Scale, Big Impact
This blog explores some of the drivers which led Balfour Beatty, the international infrastructure group, to produce its “small scale, big impact” report. The paper examines the role that small scale, quickly implementable projects can play in boosting economic growth nationally in the short- to medium-term, while simultaneously providing a longer-term structural contribution to the economy, for example, by addressing congestion on the roads. It explores how these “shovel-ready” schemes might be planned in order to run in parallel with existing commitments to larger scale projects such as HS2 and Hinkley Point C.
One of the pressing concerns that we face is addressing the sector-wide skills shortage. Free movement of labour has allowed us to recruit skilled staff from the EU; however, post-Brexit, we need to encourage the training of workers on more modest schemes. Balfour Beatty has already taken the initiative in addressing the skills shortage by being a long standing member of The 5% Club, an employer led organisation set up by our Chief Executive three years ago. The 5% Club aims to address the skills gap by getting more young people into “earn to learn” opportunities and to encourage businesses to take the lead on training and promoting apprenticeships as a positive career decision. However, we wanted to delve further and explore the practical means of addressing the skills issues that have the potential to hold back future infrastructure projects.
Another key reason behind delivering the report is ensuring that in a post-Brexit environment, the UK is attractive and stable enough to maintain and even improve its position as a place for infrastructure investment.
We need to think innovatively about financing models and private investment to ensure that any carefully-targeted fiscal stimuli can provide real value for money to the tax-payer.
Philip Wright, Balfour Beatty.
Even making maintenance improvements, such as repairing roads, flood assets and enhancing the public realm as part of regeneration schemes, can produce considerable economic benefits.
Drawing on our considerable experience and understanding of the link between infrastructure and economic regeneration, we were keen to explore further the way that having a pipeline of smaller projects can have a positive impact on local communities and economies. In order to speed up the procurement process and achieve value for money, we have suggested that Local Authorities could also consider using a direct award framework such as those offered by SCAPE.
Ultimately, the report arose out of a need to ensure that action is taken now to address some of the wider issues affecting the industry and to highlight that infrastructure spending to help stimulate economic growth need not be restricted to headline grabbing megaprojects – sometimes, small really is beautiful.
You can read the report in full here.
Philip WrightFramework Director
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