Government investment to create 3,000 skilled jobs

Government investment to create 3,000 skilled jobsThe UK government will invest £35 million to help thriving £70 billion automotive sector and create highly-skilled manufacturing jobs.

The investment will also improve industrial transport links on the A45, including a new bridge to connect Whitley South to the existing Jaguar Land Rover engineering centre and global HQ.

An expanded automotive business zone in Whitley, near Coventry, is set to become home to nearly 3,000 highly-skilled engineering and advanced manufacturing jobs, following £35 million in government investment, Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark announced this week.

The new 24-hectare site, known as the Whitley South Infrastructure Project, will open up new growth opportunities for local manufacturers and businesses in the supply chain, creating highly-skilled engineering and advanced manufacturing jobs.

The site is being developed with support from Coventry and Warwickshire LEP (CWLEP), Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council, who have secured further local contributions of £10 million to secure the project.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “Our world-class auto sector is leading the way and this new development will create thousands more skilled jobs. It shows how private and public sector can work together to make a difference to the economy.

That’s why every member of my ministerial team has been appointed as a local growth champion, to work with local enterprise partnerships like CWLEP to support key opportunities and increase prosperity.”

The new funding will also help improve local industrial transport links, connecting the site up with the A45, and constructing a new bridge to join the new development with an existing Jaguar Land Rover engineering centre.

To coincide with the announcement, CWLEP has also announced it will publish its refreshed Strategic Economic Plan today, which includes ‘Unlocking our Growth Potential’ and ‘Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering’ as its core priorities, as well as underlining the importance of funding the Whitley South Infrastructure Project.

Speaking ahead of a visit to Coventry-based advanced manufacturing company AMT Expert, Business Minister Margot James said: “The resurgence of advanced manufacturing and the automotive industry in the West Midlands is a real success story.

It’s vital we maintain this momentum and keep creating high-skilled jobs and don’t let any opportunity slip through our fingers. Today’s £35 million investment unlocks land that will help to cement the region as a leading destination for investment.”

London Mayor to speed up housebuilding

Docklands deal will deliver 3,500 new London homesSadiq Khan has released the first details of his plans to set up a powerful ‘Homes for Londoners’ team at City Hall to oversee homebuilding in the capital and boost the delivery of new homes.

The Mayor of London has begun work to pull together and bolster housing and development capacity at City Hall and across the GLA family.

As a first step, he has begun recruiting new experts to scrutinise ‘viability assessments’ – the financial details that lie behind how much affordable housing new developments include.

The experts, who will be drawn from finance surveyors and property consultant experts and be based at City Hall, will support housing delivery by making planning decisions faster and more consistent, and by ensuring new developments include the maximum amount of affordable housing.

Sadiq will also lead a new ‘Homes for Londoners’ board, formed of London Boroughs, housing associations, and developers.

The board will oversee delivery, land assembly and investment decisions, and will draw on expertise from across the housing and property sectors to help develop new policy for the capital.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Homeownership has been slipping increasingly out of reach for more and more Londoners, and rents have been getting harder and harder to afford. I want to be honest with Londoners from the start that it will take time to turn things around – we’re starting from a position where last year the previous Mayor built the lowest number of affordable homes since records began.

I am determined that Londoners get the same opportunities this great city gave me. That is why I am setting up my Homes for Londoners team to speed up homebuilding and to move towards 50 per cent of new homes in London being genuinely affordable to rent and buy.”

A review of capacity and skills across the GLA will now get underway. Its aim is to ensure the ‘Homes for Londoners’ team can play a more active role in the delivery of housing, particularly in bringing forward public land in London, and speeding up the planning process. This may also lead to additional expertise and support being recruited into the team in due course.

David Montague, Chair of the g15, said: “The Mayor of London has made housing a priority from day one, and we have been working with James Murray on a new strategic housing partnership.

“Homes for Londoners will bring together the GLA, housing associations, local authorities and housebuilders to tackle the capital’s housing crisis.

“The priority now must be to build a long-term pipeline of clean serviced and consented land.  With this we can guarantee apprenticeships, jobs, economic growth, thriving communities and affordable homes.  Without it, London will lose out in the competition for investment and growth.”

Queen Street Tunnel works completed

Queen Street Tunnel works completedA £60 million project to refurbish and upgrade the kilometre-long Glasgow Queen Street tunnel was completed last week, nearly three days ahead of schedule.

Since the high-level station closed on Sunday 20 March, 3,000 engineers have been working around-the-clock for five months to renew 1,800 metres of concrete slab track and install more than 4,000 metres of new rails through the structure.

Station platforms and track layouts within Queen Street have also been extended and altered as part of the project, and both the tunnel and station have been prepared for the electrification of the main Glasgow-Edinburgh line next year.

Electrification will allow the introduction of faster, longer and greener trains on the line – delivering thousands of extra seats, shorter journey times and improved accessibility for customers.

Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf helped tighten the final bolt on the new slab track inside the tunnel and met with customer service staff.

Mr Yousaf said: “I am pleased to see the work on the Queen Street tunnel completed ahead of schedule and on budget. This has been an unprecedented project, both in engineering terms and in the scale of the operation required to keep people moving and services diverted via the underground platforms during the works.

This is a key milestone in our programme of investment for Scotland’s railways and literally paves the way for the introduction of a new generation of electric trains.

I would like to congratulate the ScotRail-Network Rail Alliance on a successful job, and the hundreds of men and women who have worked day and night to deliver the hugely ambitious project.”

London City Airport expansion hailed by the Government

London City Airport expansion hailed by the GovernmentIn a major boost to support British jobs and investment, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid have today announced the go-ahead for a brand new £344 million expansion programme at London City Airport.        

The three ministers announced the approved plans for an extended terminal, new aircraft taxiway and parking spaces for planes in one of the capital’s fastest growing airports.

Set to improve passengers’ journeys, these new plans will increase connections within the UK and Europe and support business opportunities and investment.

London City Airport also estimates that the scheme will create 1,600 airport jobs for staff, together with 500 construction jobs, and could potentially contribute £1.5 billion to the UK economy by 2025.

There will be new space for planes to taxi to and from the runway, so more planes can use it, and new stands for planes to allow bigger, more modern planes to use the airport.

London City Airport will also make a number of investments in transport links around the airport, including funding the cost of additional DLR rolling stock (£2.6 million), investing in a bus and taxi access scheme and improving walking and cycle routes to the airport.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said: “London City Airport’s ambitious growth plans will boost international connections, strengthening the City of London’s links to destinations across the world, and send a clear signal that Britain is open for business.

“This is a real vote of confidence in the resilience of our economy, creating over a thousand new jobs.”

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is fantastic news for London and Britain as a whole. I am determined to invest in the infrastructure this country needs, to help people get around more easily, boost investment and create opportunities.”

Faster planning helps the building trades

Regeneration scheme to deliver thousands of new properties and jobsThe average time for a planning decision to be made on major developments has fallen by 17% on the previous year, paving the way for the building trades.

Annual statistics published this week show decision times for local and major applications have reduced, meaning more housing and business developments can start to build sooner.

Planning Minister Kevin Stewart welcomed the statistics, but said more must be done to improve planning performance.

The average decision time for major developments in 2015-16 reduced by more than 6 weeks on the previous year, while major housing development decisions are now almost two weeks faster than in 2013-14.

Decisions made on local housing applications also reduced by almost a week compared to the previous year.

Mr Stewart said:“Effective planning is crucial to promoting sustainable economic growth and ultimately to helping build more homes. Speeding up the planning system is a vital part of this.

“These statistics are very encouraging, particularly at a time where we are looking at the best ways to reform and improve our planning system.

“The reduction in decision making timescales can only be a good thing – it means we are open for business and helping create certainty within the building sector.”

Wates framework brings employment boost to the Midlands

Wates framework brings employment boost to the MidlandsWates Construction is using its role on the East Midlands Property Alliance framework to boost prospects for job seekers and help the building trades.

In the two years since its appointment to the framework, Wates has engaged a total of 5,215 pupils and students across the region to encourage young talent into the sector, as well as over 250 individuals at careers fairs.

The news comes as the UK Commission for Employment and Skills reports that the East Midlands is currently facing the largest skills gap in the United Kingdom, which stands at 16 per cent of the regional workforce lacking the skills required for their role.

Wates’ presence in the region has included the transformation of Dakeyne Street and the construction of Heathfield Primary School, which join the portfolio of empa projects where 95.7 per cent of sub-contractors appointed have been SMEs.

Work in the region has also seen the contractor provide 1,097 training days in health and safety, professional development and sustainability, as well as 253 days worth of on-site skills training.

In addition, a host of professional and academic qualifications have been awarded to apprentices and employees at Wates, including nine NVQs and three degrees.

Regional business manager, Paul Windle at empa, said: “In 2015 alone, Wates and its partners helped secure almost 250 construction jobs in the industry, through the academy alone.

I would like to thank them for their continued commitment to the scheme which will help see more talented workers pursue a career in construction over the next few years.”

Housing completions at 7 year high

Housing completions at 7 year highThe number of newly built homes continues to rise and is now at the highest level since 2008 to 2009, new figures released this month show.

139,690 new homes were completed in the year to March – a rise of 12% on the previous year.

And the latest house building figures also show that the number of new homes started is also at its highest level since 2007 to 2008.

139,680 homes were started in 2015 to 2016. This continues the upward trend as both starts and completions have continued to grow gradually for the last 2 years.

Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said: “We’ve got the country building again and are seeing our house building efforts paying-off with this considerable increase in the number of homes built in just 1 year.

This is real progress but there is more to do. That’s why we are going further and increasing our investment in housebuilding to ensure many more hard-working people can benefit.”

House building growth across the country

The new figures show strong regional growth in Wakefield and London experiencing high levels of completions.

Delivery in London saw 32% more homes being built in 2015 to 2016 than the previous year with local authorities in Basildon and Haringey seeing completions soar 279% and 1039% respectively over the same period.

And in Wakefield completions were up 59%, from 1,028 to 1,634.

Figures published in November 2015 show that the total number of new homes across the country rose by 25% in 2014 to 2015 when taking into account all homes, including new builds, houses that have been converted into flats and buildings whose use has been changed to residential.

The government’s landmark Housing and Planning Act will also help deliver on its ambition to build a million more homes.

The Act will ensure local authorities continue to play an important role in delivery, and new measures will allow them to provide more homes more swiftly.

Government announces record UK employment figures

Government announces record UK employment figuresThe employment rate in the UK has hit another record high of 74.2%, and there are more people in work than ever before according to latest figures by the Office for National Statistics.

Official figures released this month by the ONS show there are now 31.58 million people in work – a growth driven by full-time employment – and the unemployment rate remains at 5.1%, the lowest in a decade and below recession levels.

Average wages before bonuses grew 2.1% over the last year and there are around 745,000 vacancies available in the jobs market.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Stephen Crabb said: “These are another record-breaking set of figures, with more people in work than ever before and the unemployment rate is the lowest in a decade at 5.1%.

More people in work means that more families across the UK are benefiting from the security of a regular wage and the fulfilment that employment brings.

But the job is not done, which is why our welfare reforms, such as Universal Credit, are making sure that it always pays to be in work.”

The latest labour market statistics also show:

  • the proportion of people who are economically inactive – those not in work or looking for employment – has never been lower at 21.7%

  • the claimant count rate remains at the lowest since 1975 at 2.1%

  • there are 26.2 million people employed in the private sector – 575,000 more than a year earlier

Horizon appoints builder to deliver Wylfa nuclear power station

Horizon appoints builder to deliver Wylfa nuclear power stationHorizon Nuclear Power has today appointed Menter Newydd to help deliver the company’s lead nuclear new build project, Wylfa Newydd.

Menter Newydd, meaning New Venture in Welsh, is a joint venture which will be responsible for the construction of Wylfa Newydd, overseen by Horizon Nuclear Power.

The appointment comes as Horizon continues to make progress across all areas of the Wylfa Newydd project, having just completed a further stage of public consultation in North Wales and recently launched its apprenticeship scheme.

Duncan Hawthorne, Horizon CEO, said: “This is an important step in any large, complex infrastructure project and it adds to Wylfa Newydd’s growing momentum.

The depth and breadth of expertise Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe, Bechtel and JGC bring to the Menter Newydd venture will help us ensure the timely delivery of our project, which will be vital for meeting the UK’s energy gap and boosting the local economy in North Wales for decades to come. We look forward to working with the team and continuing to make great strides with our plans.”

Hitachi’s Malcolm Twist, Project Director for Menter Newydd, said: “This is a very strong team. All the partners are proven at the highest level, and I’m delighted we’ve established the balance of expertise to safely deliver for Horizon, on-cost and on-schedule. We expect to begin firming up relationships with our main sub-contractors – many of them British – very soon.”

Bechtel’s Mike Robinson, Deputy Project Director for Menter Newydd, said: “This is an exciting project and a major milestone for low-carbon energy and future jobs across Wales and the UK.

As part of Menter Newydd, Bechtel will bring Wylfa Newydd safely into delivery to cost and budget in collaboration with local communities and our partners.

£55.7m infrastructure contract signed for upgrades at Mount Pleasant

£55.7m infrastructure contract signed for upgrades at Mount PleasantA multi-million contract to upgrade the power station, boiler house and district heating system at the Mount Pleasant complex on the Falkland Islands has been signed.

The announcement comes after Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visited the Falkland Islands in February, and forms part of his commitment of £180 million investment over the next decade to modernise the military infrastructure on the Islands.

The contract is for the upgrade of the main power station, main boiler house and district heating system, which have been in service for a number of years and will ensure that the facilities continue to provide a safe and reliable means of supplying electrical power and hot water for many years to come.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “The upgrading of these facilities is an important part of our major investment plan to deliver better infrastructure for our armed forces. Alongside our recent contract to improve Mare harbour, we are boosting our defensive capability and supporting the Islands.”

This latest contract is expected to be followed by investment to improve new services accommodation at the 3 Radar Heads.

Simon Trant, Managing Director International at Trant Engineering said: “It will be a privilege and honour to utilise our expertise to upgrade Mount Pleasant power station.”