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An engineering services manifesto has been launched by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), ahead of the upcoming general election on 8 June.

The five-point industry manifesto, which adds to a recent submission by the ECA and BESA on the government’s industrial strategy consultation, calls for the following:

- Connecting the output of construction and operation of the UK’s built environment, and making it a strategic priority, to enable the sustainable delivery of economic, social and environmental benefits. Engineering services is uniquely positioned as a cornerstone of both sectors and has a central role in delivering these benefits throughout the lifetime of built assets, and, as a key enabler, should be selected by government for a ‘sector deal’.

- Ensuring that SME apprenticeship training is fully funded for the entire parliament. At present, there is significant concern that firms that are not required to pay the new apprenticeship levy may not be able to access the support they need to develop engineering and other technical skills.

- Ensuring government is a smart client and smaller businesses have stability of cash-flow and payment. A key request is for a digital payment platform in the public sector, linked to digital procurement processes. This would give greater transparency and speed to supply chain payment, and lower supplier risk.

- Making energy, heat and carbon efficiency a real sustainable delivery priority within the next parliament. Achievable energy efficiency goals, backed by government, need to be fulfilled if we are to meet our emissions reductions targets in the lowest cost way, as well as offering a way for businesses to improve their productivity.

- Improve productivity through action to enhance employee engagement. Government should introduce additional requirements in the procurement process to help mitigate against false self-employment and other tax avoidance schemes, and facilitate improved employer-worker collaboration, resulting in enhanced productivity.

ECA CEO Steve Bratt and BESA chief executive Paul McLaughlin said:“The next government has a great opportunity to deliver an investment and regulatory climate in which industry thrives and where buildings and infrastructure support UK growth and productivity.

“Our five-point manifesto would support business, by delivering highly skilled apprenticeships, giving SMEs the opportunity to grow, and ultimately, improving UK productivity.”

According to the government’s industrial strategy consultation, the UK lags behind other developed nations including Germany, France and the United States, in terms of worker productivity.

BESA and ECA members have combined annual turnover of £10 billion, spanning building, infrastructure and maintenance activity. Engineering services fulfils 90 per cent of the costs associated with buildings and infrastructure, compared to just 10 per cent for initial building costs.