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The UK's Recovery: Communities, Councils and Construction


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Our chief executive Mark Robinson reflects on new SCAPE-commissioned research revealing public attitudes to construction and its role in supporting the recovery of local communities across the UK.

Like many of our public sector colleagues, developing stronger, more resilient communities has been at the forefront of everything SCAPE has done over the past year to support the economic recovery – our focus has been on helping to accelerate construction projects that will ultimately enrich communities post-Covid.

In order to do that, we needed to make sure we knew exactly what the residents want construction to deliver for their local communities, and how councils and local authorities can help make this happen. To this end, we’re pleased to have teamed up with YouGov on a national research project – the findings of which were recently published in The Times.

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The results show that UK residents are largely willing to support and fund a construction-led recovery, and provide an insight into what they think public sector organisations should be considering as part of construction projects.

  • Two-fifths (40%) of UK adults were willing to pay more council tax to support construction-led job creation in their area
  • 29% would fund an increase in projects delivered to the highest standard
  • 28% were happy to support project that were highly sustainable
  • A quarter (25%) put an emphasis on projects supporting local supply chains

In a further commitment to community-focused regeneration and development, respondents from across the country wanted local councils to prioritise working with construction companies who create additional social or community value through projects (42%). Contractors being able to deliver projects to the lowest cost (9%) was last on their list of priorities, which echoes the aspirations of the government’s Construction Playbook outcomes-based procurement approach.

Notably, Generation Z (respondents aged 24 and under) consistently favoured paying more tax to achieve better outcomes for their local community – particularly in relation to the delivery of highly sustainable buildings (50%). When it came to facilitating apprenticeships and job creation – the most popular outcome across all respondents in our poll – Gen Z respondents were eight percent more likely to support tax increases (48%) than the national average.

These statistics, which are representative across age, gender, political affiliation and socioeconomic background, are a timely reminder that the important revitalisation of public sector infrastructure, backed by central government, can offer one of the pandemic’s few silver linings. Local authorities, town planners, developers and construction firms now have the opportunity to use this generational step-change to create more vibrant, cohesive communities.

Moreover, as a new generation grows in its influence, it’s important that we continue to champion sustainable buildings that will leave a positive legacy for the future, whilst focusing on stimulating the economy in the short-term.

As we look to redefine how our communities and public spaces are designed, built and used, now is the perfect time to establish a better way of doing things.

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing some exciting news and an opportunity for you to help us explore what this could look like, so that together we are delivering better procurement, better value and better outcomes for everyone.