A Year of Achievement - 2011 Annual Report
From the 2011-2012 National Chair, Alison Perry OBE
I am pleased to report that the Federation performed well in 2011, considering the continuing challenges in the economy and a stringent Budget from the Chancellor. Thanks to prudent and efficient streamlining of activities and priorities, the Federation was able to carry out its functions to its fullest ability and, in some cases, exceeded the expectations of the corporate business plan. This was a year that saw increased activity in the English regions and Wales, with new initiatives such as GetWork Network bringing more members together. The Federation also continued to raise its profile and exercise its influencing ability across industry, politics, the public and the media.
As I come towards the end of my year as Chair, I have been privileged to represent such an amazing profession, and such dedicated members.We all want to play our part in improving the built environment, in harnessing new technologies and innovation and in working towards a sustainable future. Many of the members I have spent the past year meeting are doing just that, in very difficult conditions. The economic deficit has been difficult for many. A shrinking public sector, a barely growing private sector and increasing competition for work, havemeant we have all had to rethink how we work, and how we stay ahead.
As Chair, it gave me great pleasure to meet many of our members throughout 2011 and to be able to represent them at the highest levels of influence, including at Number 10 Downing Street. I am proud that the NFB is at the forefront of influence and is able
to lead on the changes required to support the industry and also the economy.
Government, the media and policy makers all recognise the importance of our views and concerns and I am certain that these are being listened to. This was a year of achievements – one in which the Federation rose to meet many external challenges. The economy, the changing nature of public procurement, VAT, utilities, health and safety, sustainability and zero carbon – these were all issues around which the Federation campaigned hard. Our strategic alliances, too, were deepened and widened – within the Construction Alliance; the Strategic Forum; the Better Regulation Strategy Group; the Considerate Constructors Scheme; with the Chief Construction Adviser Paul Morrell; ConstructionSkills and our European counterparts FIEC to name but a few. The Federation’s message about the value of local small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to the economy and the crucial role they play in this was central to the way we approached our stakeholders and partners.
One of the most challenging areas for our members has been the way the world of public procurement has changed. While central government has recognised that it is important to keep SMEs in the picture, it is not always the case in the wider public arena. Local authorities have increased their use of frameworks to bundle projects together, presenting ever more difficult barriers for our members to overcome, such as higher turnover requirements or longer and wider track records. However, the tide is slowly turning, not least thanks to the extensive work done by the Federation throughout 2011, with its procurement survey and research, and growing interaction with procurers
Alison Perry OBE, National Chair 2011-2012
That work has resulted in a productive and ongoing dialogue with the Cabinet Office, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the CBI - and even with Number 10 where I attended a conference on procurement in March 2012, and was able to share our members’ concerns with the Prime Minister, David Cameron. Ensuring that our members have access to public contracts, developing links with the private sector and lobbying government to produce policies that underpin a healthy construction industry have been the major driving forces of the Federation’s work in 2011 - the work continues. It was very pleasing too, to see the NFB shortlisted for two prestigious awards in 2011 for our Stay Safe, Stay Away children’s safety campaign. This campaign goes from strength to strength and each year hundreds of children enter for the chance to win much needed funds for their schools, as well as individual prizes to theme parks and a trip to the Houses of Parliament. The competition is fun, but the message behind it is a serious one – to keep children safe, well and away from construction sites. Our members have taken that message to heart, and increasing numbers now display our banners across their sites.
We are now, of course, in 2012 and this is a tremendous year, with the Olympics, as well as the celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It was a fitting year in which to launch our awards for 2011 - because these awards are a great bridge between, on the one hand, a celebration of history, tradition and heritage that the Diamond Jubilee represents and, on the other, the great strides in innovation and building that have led to the iconic Olympic Park.
Both will leave enduring legacies, I am sure, as will our industry, which leaves its mark on whatever it touches. I am proud to have been the Chair at this auspicious time, and I thank all our members, partners and stakeholders for their support of the Federation.
I am also deeply honoured to have been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. I am delighted to have received this honour for services to construction. While I am pleased and privileged to have been chosen for this award, I could not have
achieved anything without the ‘team effort’ of the construction industry in pulling together and working for the common good. I intend to continue to support fellow builders and contractors to maintain that voice. It’s an honour for me, for the industry and for the NFB.