Building boost as '˜hub' programme breaks £1bn mark

Hundreds of smaller-sized building firms are said to be benefitting from increased activity as the value of construction work linked to a Scotland-wide programme to develop new community facilities pushes through £1 billion.

Construction work generated by string of projects is supporting 14,000 SME posts. Picture: Sarah Peters
Construction work generated by string of projects is supporting 14,000 SME posts. Picture: Sarah Peters

Figures published today by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) show the value of schools, health centres and town-centre facilities being built for public sector organisations has reached just over £1.1bn.

According to the report, about three-quarters of all “hub” contracts have been awarded to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), while the related construction activity is supporting more than 14,000 jobs.

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Projects valued at some £550 million are in development through the five hub ventures while schemes valued at £510m have already been completed, are operational and “serving local communities”, the SFT noted.

The findings will provide some support for a sector still struggling in the wake of the economic downturn and facing the additional headache of a skills shortage in many areas.

A recent report revealed that confidence among Scottish builders had tumbled to a three-year low in the wake of the Brexit vote amid concerns that some investment decisions could now hit the wall.

Industry bosses issued a stark warning over the near-term prospects for the industry after the latest Scottish Construction Monitor showed confidence levels among employers sliding 22 points to minus 19 – the first time since spring 2013 that the monitor has recorded a negative overall reading.

David MacDonald, hub programme director at the SFT, said: “The success of the hub programme is clear to see as the value of projects under construction continues to grow.

“The programme is an innovative approach to develop and deliver best-value community facilities which provides public bodies with a quick and efficient way of getting their projects into construction and services delivered to their communities.

“The benefit of using hub as the preferred delivery partner is reflected in the huge increase in the value of projects under construction. We see this momentum continuing as there’s £550m of community projects still in development.”

He added: “With 78 per cent of hub construction contracts being awarded to SMEs, many thousands of local jobs are being protected and sustained.”

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James McAlpine, managing director of construction contractor CBC, said: “As a Glasgow-based SME, we have benefited greatly from the opportunities offered through the hub initiative.

“To date, we have completed two projects with hub West Scotland – the Shields Centre in Glasgow’s southside, and the refurbishment of council office accommodation in Dumbarton.”