21/10/2010

Beleaguered Builders Get Party Spokesmen

Amid bad news for the construction sector, it has emerged that each of the five main political parties in Northern Ireland has now recognised the importance of the industry and has nominated spokespersons for the sector.

However the good news for builders is overshadowed by reports that the money set aside by the Stormont Executive for large construction projects has been cut far more than was predicted.

The Executive's capital spending budget will fall by 40% with real damage to the economy and further job losses in the construction sector now anticipated.

Even though "every £1 spent on construction generates £2.84 for the wider economy", according to the Chief Executive of the Construction Employers' Federation, (CEF) John Armstrong, the cutbacks in the capital building programme will follow on from an already significant decline in the construction industry as a result of the recession.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster this morning, the employers' boss said the Executive needed to take unpopular decisions, including potentially introducing domestic water charges and selling assets, to raise the initial income.
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He said there is hope though: "I think if the Executive take this clear and decisive action and pull together, then things are maybe more positive than we might expect."

He insisted that because of the "intricate link" between the building industry and the wider Northern Ireland economy, such decisive action is now needed and added that the focus should be on growing the "wealth-generating" private sector.

"One of the ways of doing that is by investing in our infrastructure - our schools, hospitals, transport, water and social housing."

The other news from the Construction Employers Federation (CEF), the certified employers organisation for the construction industry was a statement that has revealed that political representatives are taking the sector more seriously with nominations for spokesmen.

They are: Tommy Gallagher SDLP, Fermanagh South Tyrone; Simon Hamilton DUP, Strangford; Billy Leonard Sinn Fein, East Londonderry; John McCallister UUP, South Down and Sean Neeson Alliance, East Antrim.

They will now all be looking at ways to halt the Northern Ireland construction sector's further decline as a result of the cuts announced in the Spending Review.

The CEF has said that 21,000 people have lost their jobs in the sector during the recession already, 13,000 of who are still on benefits.

See: NI Builders Facing Deepening Crisis

(BMcC)

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