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Thu March 04 2021

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Official stats undervalue UK construction says CIOB

24 Feb 20 The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has published a report arguing that the UK construction industry is almost twice as big as the government thinks it is.

The CIOB report is called "The Real Face of Construction 2020"
The CIOB report is called "The Real Face of Construction 2020"

The argument is based on the contention that construction industry activity is not restricted to site work but also includes parts of the services and manufacturing sectors.

The standard industrial classification (SIC) code for construction does not include suppliers of products, materials, plant and equipment; nor does it include architecture, surveying, engineering design or other professional services.

Officially, as currently measured, construction contributed £116.3bn to the UK economy in 2018. But the CIOB’s report identifies another £98bn of construction sector activity that is not included in the official statistics.

The CIOB wants the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to produce ‘satellite accounts’ that pull together numbers from the broader construction sector to show are more realistic picture of the industry.

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“This would provide a clearer picture of trends in productivity, activity, employment and demand related to delivering the built environment. It would enhance the information needed for good decision and policy making,” the report1 says.

CIOB chief executive Caroline Gumble said: “The quality of our built environment affects every member of society; our work influences productivity and wellbeing at home and at work.  It is both far-reaching and life-shaping. Our purpose for this report is to help educate policymakers about the true value of the built environment and the need to work in closer partnership with the industry to realise its full potential, particularly at a regional level where it can rebalance local economies and offer people a quality career unlike many others.”

Sir James Wates, chairman of the CBI construction council, said: “We in the built environment sector know that we have a broader and more profound impact than we’re often given credit for. We are a network of contractors, architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, specialists, facility managers, and many others – all working as a team to create spaces, infrastructure and buildings that improve people’s lives and make the economy work better. We’re economic multipliers, and this new CIOB report helps us to articulate just how that’s so.”

1. The Real Face of Construction 2020 is available as a pdf via the CIOB website

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