Senior industry figures have expressed concerns that an imminent restructuring at the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) could disrupt ongoing attempts at construction payment reform.
Last week the DTI launched a payment consultation as a part of its review of the Construction Act.
However, speculation is rife that Gordon Brown will rip apart the Department when he takes over as Prime Minister.
“We’re delighted we’ve got a consultation document,” said Rod Pettigrew, head of commercial and legal at the HVCA. “It acknowledges that payment is an issue, and the Government says it is committed to primary legislation on the matter.
“That said, when Mr Brown’s administration comes in we will face a heavy legislative agenda, so we may be fighting for legislative space. If we get a high profile construction representative with access to the cabinet then it could push it further to the top.
“The worst possible scenario is if construction is left floating between departments and falls down the list of priorities.”
Rudi Klein, chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors (SEC)
Group said a lot depends on the scale of changes at the DTI, with widespread changes possibly throwing plans out of kilter.
“The uncertainty is a concern. The DTI’s work is very wide, and there is a suggestion Mr Brown will try to rationalise the department and give it more focus on business.
“The real problem is the resources devoted to construction. Manufacturing
adds up to 15 per cent of GDP while construction accounts for 9 per cent, yet manufacturing gets treble the resources from the Government. It’s ridiculous we have that imbalance.
“We hope any re-structure can be used to give the Government’s construction representative a more senior role.”