Kevan Carrick
Kevan Carrick

Member Article

Raising SMEs' barriers

IF you are a regular reader of my column, you will know that I specialise in regeneration and physical development. I address those matters that are a barrier to making progress to creating jobs and growth.

Closely following this is the construction sector, another strong part of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) membership.

The next phase for economic activity in the region will be construction, mainly infrastructure. Construction is at the heart of a message that I address each week – that land, property and development can drive and support sustainable economic growth. This is especially important in these tough economic times, and for a region more exposed than most.

The RICS Policy Unit, which I have supported for many years, is at the heart of providing advice and guidance to government in a non-biased manner, responding to the Royal Charter which requires the RICS to act in the public interest.

The majority of RICS members – particularly in this region – are employed in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), many of which are one and two-person micro-businesses and small practices operating at local levels. It is these companies that the Government sees as key to delivering growth. The RICS has been taking evidence from members and telling government about the blockages that SMEs face in accessing the construction market, and suggesting how government could do this better.

For instance, it is in the wider public interest for SMEs to access a greater share of public sector tenders, to take advantage of the pension-funded infrastructure, and to benefit from mechanisms available to unlock stalled development schemes, such as the Regional Growth Fund, and Growing Places Fund. A third of the construction workforce is employed in enterprises with nine employees or fewer; just under a third work in enterprises employing over 250 people. And many of these smaller businesses rely on repair and maintenance work.

The RICS has held meetings around the UK and the main subjects arising so far are government pipelines and contracts, procurement, finance, cities and regions, the green economy and low carbon, BIM and infrastructure.

An RICS Construction policy report will be produced this month setting out the findings of their work over the past year, but the evidence gathering continues and you can contribute on the RICS website, via this address – goo.gl/K78o6

By way of example of the scope and influence your comments will have, the RICS hosted a meeting a couple of weeks ago in the North East with Peter Hansford, the government’s chief construction advisor, which I attended.

Key points were made by guests about the slow and expensive cost of procurement strangling regeneration projects and construction, and how to unlock speculative development.

A few days later, Peter Hansford and the RICS hosted a group in London to share learning from the trial projects outlined in the Government Construction Strategy and identify opportunities to make savings and faster innovation.

The soon-to-be-published RICS Construction Policy, will build on this and the voice of the North East will be in there. This policy will focus heavily on SMEs, and seek to advise government on how better to make growth a reality.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Kevan Carrick .

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