BCSA prepared for Brexit – and beyond
Brexit-related caution is reportedly holding up developments across UK industry, to the detriment of construction order books. Recent figures from ABI Barbour suggest a fall of 15% in September compared to a year previously.
But as readers can see, there is still a lot of activity on sites throughout the UK – we report from Edinburgh, Greenock, Cumbria, Salford and London this month – and despite the marked slowdown in London commercial activity, there is a fair degree of optimism in the regions.
Brexit might even be proving to be a good thing for some parts of the market, it has been reported, as the possibility of more complicated supply chains post Brexit is helping drive demand for more regional distribution hubs. Population flows in recent years have generally been from the regions and towards London, but there are signs that this is reversing with the population of Birmingham for example increasing thanks to this regional drift. Demand for schools, offices, shops and housing of course always rises with population growth. The economy might have slowed down, but life goes on and drives changes in demand for construction services.
The political outlook remains uncertain and cloudy and unlikely to clear at least until the 12 December General Election, but a lot of business life has also had to go on regardless. The steel sector has remained busy preparing for the post-Brexit world. For example, a guide to UK Conformity Assessed Marking (UKCA Marking) which would replace CE Marking has been produced, spelling out what would happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit. It has been widely distributed and is available for download free from SteelConstruction.info. The change it prepared for might not happen, but the steelwork sector is ready if it does.
BCSA’s technical staff have been instrumental in ensuring that architects and engineers will not face the same sort of uncertainty that bedevils developers, whatever the outcome of the Brexit process. BCSA’s members support the unstinting effort put into the constant process of ensuring that codes and standards are produced that will ensure the best quality steel-framed buildings.
BCSA members and staff are steeped in the process of codes and standards development and also contribute significantly to devising new design guides – for example, preparations are already underway for updating no fewer than 34 design guides that will be needed by 2023. This means that BCSA members are well placed to know how to proceed whatever the type or size of building or other structure, and to confidently advise designers, contractors and clients. A wealth of advice and other steelwork sector back-up is available from the BCSA itself, and partner organisations like the Steel Construction Institute, university research departments and major steel manufacturers.
Making sure that your steelwork contractor is a BCSA member is the best assurance that you can have that your project is in the safe hands of a technically audited specialist that will be a fully up-to-date, key member of your construction team. That won’t change whatever the Brexit outcome.