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Looking ahead in social infrastructure

Ahead of this year’s UK Infrastructure Show (UKIS), which will be taking place on the 22nd April at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, it would be worthwhile to look back on the infrastructure projects which have defined the past year in the construction industry.

Courtesy of the recent General Election, the now majority Conservative Government is under pressure to abide by their campaign policies and allocate increased levels of funding towards the public sector and towards construction projects within the somewhat broad subsector of social infrastructure. Social infrastructure projects include those which support society and social services, covering the construction of buildings like hospitals, clinics, schools, and even police stations.

This means that, following the Prime Minister’s pledges of an extra 20,000 police officers, increased school funding, and additional NHS funding of £20Bn over the course of the next five years, the necessary infrastructure to support this increase in social service staff and equipment will need to be delivered.

These additional police officers will require additional police stations to accommodate them, the equipment bought and medical professionals hired through the boost in NHS funding will require hospitals, and the teachers hired and students taken on through extra school funding will require additional schools. Yet again, everything boils down to infrastructure, meaning that the more services politicians promise, the more infrastructure will be needed.

According to the Glenigan Construction Industry Forecast for 2020/21, the number of construction starts within the health sector are set to rise by a proportion of three per cent during 2020 and by a proportion of eight per cent during 2021, with starts in 2019 measuring at 12 per cent lower than the previous year.

Market research from Glenigan suggests that this growth within the hospital side of social infrastructure is on account of NHS trusts developing and implementing their investment programmes, which they are now free to organise and plan for due to the election results providing definitive answers on how much funding each area of public services will receive.

In fact, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care made a pledge in December 2019 to construct an additional 40 hospitals over the course of the next decade.

Wales has also been a recent hotspot for the construction of hospitals, following the construction of the £4.7M All Wales Adult Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Centre at the University Hospital in Llandough, the Dewi Sant Health Park in Pontypridd, and the Sancta Maria Hospital in Swansea.

Similarly, the construction of social infrastructure relating to the education sector is also forecast to grow over the next two years, as stated in the Glenigan Construction Industry Forecast for 2020/21, with project starts set to increase by a proportion of just one per cent in 2020 before increasing further, by a proportion of four per cent, after having declined by a proportion of nine per cent over the course of 2019.

This, of course, falls in line with the Prime Minister’s pledges which, in turn, are in response to projected increases in the number of pupils in school in Britain, which were set to increase by a proportion of 13.6 per cent over the course of the five years building up to 2022.

Norfolk has actually been a hotspot for the building of schools as of late, following the construction of White House Farm Primary School in Sprowston, New Road Primary School in Peterborough, Hethersett Primary School, and St Clements Hill Primary Academy.

To get a more comprehensive view of the social infrastructure construction industry in the year (or even future years) to come, it would be worthwhile attending UKIS to listen to the insider knowledge and expertise of representatives from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) as well as the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).

DIO) spends circa £3Bn each year providing infrastructure and construction services to the Defence estate 

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