The past 12 months have been difficult for UK construction, with continuing hardship slowing activity and headline-grabbing infrastructure projects getting cancelled at the last minute. On page 24 of this issue we look back over 2023 – at the highs as well as the lows – and bid it a not-so-fond farewell.
But while it is traditional to turn over a new leaf in early January, we cannot just draw a line under 2023 and move on; the events of last year simply carry through to the present.
The most important milestone this year is most likely to be a general election – possibly in the spring, more likely in the autumn.
Keir Starmer might lack charisma, but he’s so far ahead in the polls that a Labour victory looks more than likely. Starmer has promised a “big build” if he gets in, with the development of a new generation of Labour new towns. It sounds like standard campaign rhetoric and it’s not yet cast in stone – so how seriously can we take it? We look at the evidence on page 43.
Any attempt to accelerate the supply of new homes will have to address the role of the volume house-builders (see page 22). Politicians can say what they like about reforming the system but the power is not in their hands but in those of a few big, and very profitable, corporations.