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The new normal: How we level-up in post-COVID world

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Mace partner insight

Team SCAPE delivery partner Mace has recently published a report discussing the need for levelling up across the UK, and the role construction can play to accelerate it.

The last eighteen months have fundamentally changed the political and economic landscape of the UK. However, we must recognise that the long-term impact of the pandemic won’t affect all regions equally. Historic underinvestment in infrastructure, poorer digital connectivity, worse health outcomes and fewer opportunities will mean that the UK’s most deprived areas – largely focussed in the North and the Midlands – will suffer more.

The moral, economic and political case for levelling up has never been clearer. The UK faces huge regional inequality which we must urgently address – to improve the quality of people’s lives, to deliver sustainable national economic growth, and to help us ‘build back better’. As such, we should see the Government’s ambitions around our return to the ‘new normal’ as a huge opportunity for the UK to address historic inequality and create a more cohesive and sustainable society; as well as helping us to reach our ambitious national net-zero carbon targets.

Solving the productivity challenge

To truly level up, we must solve the productivity challenge – both in our industry and more widely across the economy. Every single percentage increase in economic productivity drives a 1.5% increase in real wage growth. By boosting our collective output and creating high-quality, highly productive jobs we can drive huge economic and social benefits.

But more than that, to get the best possible outcomes for everyone, we must do so while addressing the climate emergency and driving social value in everything we do.

Disruptive solutions

We must be prepared to seek radical solutions that disrupt our current thinking about growth, infrastructure delivery and industrial development. It is not enough to simply continue as we have before – the inequalities we faced before the pandemic are already embedded in the system.

By using innovative methodologies as a catalyst, construction can supercharge the levelling up agenda. This report from our delivery partner Mace shows that we could save the UK taxpayer £2.8bn a year on our infrastructure pipeline, while at the same time boosting social value, reducing carbon emissions and improving productivity.

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In fact, Mace's estimates show that modern methods could raise productivity levels across the sector by 50%, from £30.11 per hour worked up to £45.17 per hour worked, making the building industry more productive than the UK economic average.

A new delivery model could re-shape how the construction industry operates, driving spectacular growth in the areas that need it most. By creating construction manufacturing hubs in the areas that need it most, we could create more than 124,000 high-quality local jobs and a huge regional economic boost of £4.9bn.

It’s clear construction can provide a multi-billion pound boost to the levelling up agenda – but to do so, we must be prepared to think differently and transform how we deliver.

Mace’s report ‘The New Normal – how we level up in a post-COVID world’ provides recommendations to help shape the future of the UK’s levelling up agenda. Download the full report here.