The Farmer Review – What’s it all About?

The Farmer Review – What’s it all About?

07th February 2019

In one of our articles last week we referred to the Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model which was a report commissioned by the government in 2016.  The Farmer Review identified areas in which the construction industry needs to change to thrive in 21st Century Britain, so today we’re going to take a closer look at the Farmer Review which was subtitled “Modernise or Die”.

Mark Farmer, who carried out the review, is an industry expert with 25 years of experience in construction and a founding director of one of the UK’s leading construction consultancies. 

The Review identified failings in key areas, including:

  • A serious lack of research and development
  • Low productivity
  • High costs and inflation
  • A lack of the skilled workers necessary to deliver the government’s infrastructure and housebuilding targets.

The Review resulted in Farmer making ten key recommendations for the UK construction industry:

  1. The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) should co-ordinate the administration of these recommendations and the Council itself should be reformed to better represent the industry.
  2. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) should be extensively reformed and its current training levy should be reviewed to increase efficiency.
  3. Contractors, consultants, clients and the government must work within the framework provided by the CLC to improve collaboration and relationships across the supply chain, and to bring about an increase in research and development within the industry.
  4. Constructors, consultants, clients and government should work within a framework supplied by CLC to investigate and consider innovative solutions to the current housing crisis, for example by sharing off site construction facilities with small and medium construction companies.
  5. The CITB must alter its grant funding process in order to focus on the skills which will be relevant to the future of the construction industry, whilst industry organisations and professional institutions should become more involved in the way that talent is developed.
  6. The CITB, or a new organisation, should be responsible for improving the public image of the construction industry, particularly when it comes to delivering school outreach programmes aimed at 11-year olds upwards.
  7. The government should intervene more often with new policies on planning, tax, employment, and education.  The government should also execute reform in the way section 106 agreements are made in order to streamline the planning process.  The treasury needs to reform the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) to disincentivise false declarations of self-employment.
  8. The government must promote the use of pre-fabricated components in construction (off-site construction methods, also known as OSMs) by offering tax incentives for research and development funding, by implementing changes in the planning system for projects using these methods, and by encouraging housing authorities to specify these techniques in future.
  9. The government must implement a new housebuilding pipeline, similar to that already in place for the national infrastructure pipeline.  This will offer private sector companies more clarity of the predicted future demands for housing.
  10. The government should introduce a 0.5% tax of the total project value on all clients who do not implement the recommendations.  This tax should be introduced within the next five years, and all funds raised by it should be reinvested into technological development.