Finding the value in construction

Finding the value in construction

Few would deny that construction is vital, but inside the industry many believe it is grossly undervalued. If they’re right, it raises two interesting questions. Is there a definitive figure that fairly expresses the value construction delivers? Does it matter if there isn’t? The second question is easily answered. Yes, it matters. In a complex world simple messages cut through. Having readymade convincing statistics is a boon. The answer to the first question is trickier. But it’s no, even though…

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Best estimate? Really? Evaluating the Help-to-Buy Equity Loan Scheme evaluation

Best estimate? Really? Evaluating the Help-to-Buy Equity Loan Scheme evaluation

The Government this week released a report evaluating the Help-to-Buy Equity Loan Scheme. It said that the best estimate showed 43% of the new homes funded by the H2B Equity Loan Scheme were additional and this additional boost amounts to 14% of total new-build output. That surprised a lot of people. So I thought I’d better have a look at how this “best estimate” was generated. I’ll say now it left me with a few questions and not a little concern….

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Trying to make sense of how construction performed in 2015. It’s not that easy

Trying to make sense of how construction performed in 2015. It’s not that easy

Interpreting the construction output figures has become a herculean task for analysts of late. It’s tough to interpret any construction data at the best of times. Construction work is lumpy, heterogeneous, blurred in definition and geographically dispersed. But making sense of the Office for National Statistics year-end construction output figures has left me stumped. It’s no secret that the output series has proved a headache for the ONS. The series has been stripped of its National Statistics status and the…

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In search of the meaning of “direct commissioning”

In search of the meaning of “direct commissioning”

The phrase directly commission has been repeated without explanation in numerous news stories following the announcement of yet another Government initiative to push up house building. I wasn’t sure what it meant, though I could speculate. For the first five years after the crash I was eager (see early blogs here and here) for Government, Labour and Coalition, to act as a developer of last resort to maintain house-building numbers and preserve building jobs and a supply chain that would be…

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Is George’s housing prescription simply a marvelous medicine to boost home ownership?

Is George’s housing prescription simply a marvelous medicine to boost home ownership?

Much excitement ahead of the Autumn Statement focused on how the Chancellor planned to tackle the housing crisis? Quite right. Housing has been steadily rising up the premier league of political concerns. Almost everyone agrees there’s a crisis. But turn your head this way or that and you’ll find a lobby group, angry mob, or a concerned person defining the housing crisis differently. So what is the housing crisis exactly? Is it: Homelessness? Awful housing conditions for too many? Poorly…

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The latest construction forecasts: room for optimism, a case for caution

The latest construction forecasts: room for optimism, a case for caution

For those trying to interpret the latest set of construction industry forecasts the task is probably tougher than usual. The move by the Office for National statistics to reclassify a large firm from services to construction has created what amounts to a structural break in the underlying data, which is very noticeable in the infrastructure series. This made the job of forecasting and creating straightforward narratives much harder than normal. Users should then pay much more attention than they might…

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Another two years or so, another construction strategy – oh dear

Another two years or so, another construction strategy – oh dear

The headline and opening paragraph of the Building magazine e-newsletter that popped into my inbox this morning instantly topped up any post-sleep slump in my cynicism. Government to launch new construction strategy A new government construction strategy focused on improving client skills, tackling industry skills shortages and further adoption of BIM will be published within weeks, Building can reveal. Oh dear, not again. My views on the last one can be read here. The main relief in the story was…

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Housing policy: If the answers aren’t working maybe we need to be asking different questions

Housing policy: If the answers aren’t working maybe we need to be asking different questions

Progress exists because we ask questions. The right answer rests on asking the right question. Curiosity is king. Say what you like, addressing questions builds knowledge, even if you don’t come up with an answer. But asking questions is not without pain. It can undermine what we hold to be true. Still. No pain no gain. Metaphorically armed with this array of aphorisms, I recently answered a call for presentations at the excitingly-named Consultative Committee on Construction Industry Statistics. I…

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The curious incident of the £2 billion boost to the UK’s official annual construction output…

The curious incident of the £2 billion boost to the UK’s official annual construction output…

… and the need for urgent investment in the construction output statistics. The latest output data from the Office for National Statistics have posed major problems for those seeking to interpret the path of construction activity. The revisions to the latest set of data, published just over a week ago, were so bamboozling that even I couldn’t construct a narrative sufficiently tortured to describe what I saw. I was truly puzzled. I might add, whether the figures show a rise…

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How do you solve a problem like the ONS construction statistics?

How do you solve a problem like the ONS construction statistics?

You don’t need a map, satnav or signposts to drive a car from one place you know to another you don’t. But it helps. A guide is handy. It supports better choices. It saves time. So, too, can good industry statistics. You don’t need them. But a good set of numbers can help to scale your market and provide hints at where it’s heading. Even fairly ropey stats and indicators help. This brings me to the latest ONS release of…

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