Service finance bodies and others representing the arts, catering and retail sectors were present at a no-deal Brexit planning meeting, to which the construction industry wasn’t invited.
The Cabinet Office held the meeting on 8 August in order to explain preparations and listen to views about what other steps would be helpful, the department said in a statement at the time.
Following a Freedom of Information request, Construction News can reveal the list of 19 bodies who attended the summit.
They include investment groups the British Growth Fund, BVCA and the Investment Association and banking groups UK Finance and CityUK. Two insurance-related bodies – the Association of British Insurers and British Insurance Brokers Association – also attended.
None of the many construction trade bodies, including the National Federation of Builders (NFB), the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), Build UK, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), nor the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) were invited.
The NFB also confirmed that it had not been invited to take part in any no-deal Brexit meetings since.
NFB chief executive Richard Beresford said: “The construction industry is a major contributor to the wider economy and this government’s housing and infrastructure ambitions.
“It is therefore disappointing to learn that nobody from our industry was invited to the no-deal Brexit meeting last month.
“The NFB had been working with the government on skills, material and industry resilience solutions and we very much hope that our working relationship can be reinvigorated,” Mr Beresford added.
FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “It is very disappointing that not a single construction body was invited to attend the no-deal Brexit planning meeting. Construction represents 6 per cent of GDP and employs more than 2.7 million people. It is an important and strategic industry, which the government relies on to deliver vital infrastructure and the homes we need.”
He added that delays and extra tariffs would “hit construction overnight”, people having extensions may need to renegotiate their contracts on 1 November and large contractors need to “ensure that changes to the sterling aren’t sending small businesses in their supply chain to the wall”.
This week the government released documents that were prepared just before the meeting showing what its worst-case scenario planning in the case of a no-deal Brexit could be.
Issues such as disruption to imports, as well as fuel shortages and traffic disruption were highlighted in the document called Operation Yellowhammer.
Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said: “This is yet more evidence that the government’s preparations are completely inadequate.
“This is simply not good enough. The government must engage fully with all sectors of the UK economy, and not leave them relying on leaks and speculation.
“As the Yellowhammer documents confirm, no deal would be a disaster for this country, and this is why Labour is determined to stop it.”
Despite the omission, a government spokeswoman claimed to be working with the sector.
“As we prepare to leave the EU, we are dedicated to securing the best deal possible that delivers maximum benefits for the UK and EU economies – allowing our construction sector to attract further investment and continue to flourish.
“We have regular conversations with all sections of industry, including the construction sector and we are working with them to make sure it is competitive, sustainable and can deliver the infrastructure and homes that the UK needs,” she said.
The full list of organisations who attended the no-deal Brexit meeting
- Association of British Insurers
- British Chambers of Commerce
- British Growth Fund
- British Insurance Brokers Association
- British Retail Consortium
- Chartered Management Institute
- Creative Industries Federation
- City UK
- Energy UK
- Federation of Small Businesses
- Food and Drink Federation
- Institute of Directors
- Investment Association
- Make UK
- Tech UK
- UK Finance
- UK Hospitality
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