Background to the discussion
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has touched every individual and business and impacted the UK economy as a whole since the world became aware of this deadly virus in early 2020. In the last 15 months, the government has invested hundreds of billions of pounds to fight the pandemic. This investment has included support for businesses and jobs during lockdown periods that closed the economy and limited travel and social contact and the delivery of a hugely successful vaccination programme across the nation.
The result has taken its toll on the UK economy. With public borrowing for the current financial year (April 2020 to April 2021) set to rise to some £355bn before falling back to around £234bn over the next year, we are in unprecedented times economically and socially.
At the same time, the UK has concluded its five year journey to exit the European Union after 47 year of membership on 31 January 2020. While the full implications of this decision are yet to fully unfold, it is clear that the change in our global trading relationships will be profound.
For the built environment sector, the good news is that as the world begins to slowly emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK government sees investment in infrastructure as central to the nation’s post Covid recovery and central to its post Brexit economic success.
In November 2020 the government published its National Infrastructure Strategy in response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s 2018 assessment of the nation’ infrastructure needs. The strategy focuses on five key areas to build back fairer, faster and greener:
- Driving recovery and rebuilding the economy
- Levelling up and strengthening the Union
- Decarbonising the economy and adapting to climate change
- Supporting private investment in infrastructure
- Accelerating and improving delivery
The strategy builds on the UK Government’s Infrastructure and Project Authority’s (IPA) June 2020 Procurement Pipeline update which sets the project procurement planned to go out to tender throughout the 2020-21 financial year. This includes over 340 contracts across 269 projects, programmes and other investments of between £27m and £3bn. This pipeline is extracted from the larger National Infrastructure Plan which sets out planned public and private investment worth over £600 billion to the end of the decade and beyond.
At the same time, Government and business are grappling with the potentially systemic issues that have been highlighted in investigations into the Grenfell tragedy just as the climate and biodiversity emergency develops.
Government and other institutions have made Net Zero Carbon commitments, where the domestic and non-domestic buildings are responsible for at least 40% of carbon emissions. As a consequence, many design professionals find themselves trapped between their professional duties as designers, their responsibility to the planet and need to consider liability implications (often misdescribed as their obligation to carry Professional Indemnity Insurance).
If Insurance is needed to protect all building owners and developers against poor practice as well as misfortune, should there not be a shared interest in procuring, designing, constructing and maintaining buildings to the highest standards on a whole life basis and thereby reduce both risks and costs of insurance? Yet, despite the Government’s best intentions, everyday practice is still driven by competitive tendering at several stages, with each participant covered by separate professional indemnity insurance.
All of this whilst the steady march of new threats and uncertainties impacting the built environment sector continues. Not least the impact of new digital technology, the use of data and the use of a greater range of modular and prefabricated elements continues to permeate every aspect of the sector as we drive to boost efficiency and maximise productivity. The digital twin and 3D modelling technology is increasingly becoming the norm to help seek greater collaborative working and ensure that data and predictive analytics sit at the heart of future asset management and operation.
As we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, it continues to be a moment of significant change and opportunity for the sector. Not least since throughout this turbulent time, the built environment professional has navigated a challenging professional indemnity insurance market. This has significantly hardened in the aftermath of the 2018 Lloyds Decile Ten review in to the performance of the Non-US PI portfolio and compounded by legacy cladding and fire safety concerns following the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy. With the Building Regulations evolution that will now follow, combined with underwriting concerns around the construction sectors performance and self-regulation these are generation defining times.
The virtual roundtable series
This series of round table discussions will bring together senior built environment sector leaders to consider the increasing risks of business-as-usual post-Grenfell and help shed light on the challenges facing the industry as the UK moves to rebuild its economy and create its new post-Brexit position in the world.
As the industry struggles to deliver buildings that perform as they proclaim, we will look at the role of Insurance as a risk transfer mechanism. How a system that is based on historic building performance, and which has provided protection for building owners, designers and contractors against accidents, mistakes and other unforeseen events, has come under such strain in recent times notwithstanding that each party in the system has been separately insured.
The discussion will build on the findings of a recent macroeconomic roundtable event, hosted by Griffiths & Armour and Beale & Co, at which the latest economic trends were presented by consultant PwC and property specialist Savills. Feedback from presenters and attendees at this event highlighted the need for further discussion across a number of key topics so as the help the sector share experiences and learnings as we move forward in changing economic times.
The invitation-only events are designed to help delegates to gain better insight into the way that you and your business can better manage risk in this new construction business environment. The conversation will be carried out in confidence so as to encourage truthful and honest response and be chaired by myself to cover the issues as below. All participants will be encouraged to contribute to the discussion throughout.
Key issues to be discussed to include:
What can we expect from 2021/22?
- driving recovery and rebuilding the economy
- the challenge of meeting Net-Zero carbon targets
- embracing the government’s Levelling Up agenda
- boosting quality, performance and efficiency
- Build, build, build – can reforms to planning make it easier to build better homes where people want to live?
The built environment reality of the UK’s post-COVID-19 economy
- what shape is the consultancy sector in to meet the demands of a growing economy?
- the on-going skills challenge
- supply chain resources and capability – is the current model right?
What Brexit means for the UK economy
- the impact on talent, capability and resources
- supply chain and materials supply
Fire risk – the post Grenfell crisis of confidence
- To what extent is cladding and fire risk now insurable…and what’s next?
- The Building Safety Fund and the Building Safety Bill – problems or panacea?
Other key insurance market trends impacting the built environment
- key PI insurance market trends and drivers
- managing the usual suspects – the relentless need to tackle the causes of claims
- new and emerging risks from the use of technology
Building back better – understanding the need for change.
- technology to boost collaboration across the supply chain
- new ways to manage risk
- embracing whole life value
- the key role of the intelligent client
- the drive for new talent and skills
We would be delighted if you can attend our roundtable. To register your attendance, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch in due course with joining instructions.