CEA: New British Government offers "unique opportunity" to propel the UK construction equipment industry into a new innovation & sustainability era

July 5, 2024
By Guy Woodford
CEA Director of Operations Viki Bell. Pic: CEA

The Construction Equipment Association (CEA) has reacted to the Labour Party's landslide UK General Election victory. It congratulated the party and its leader, Sir Keir Starmer while stating that the "significant change in leadership presents a unique opportunity to propel the UK construction equipment industry into a new era of innovation and sustainability."


CEA Director of Operation Viki Bell said the CEA is "ready to engage actively" with the new Labour Government to address the crucial challenges and seize the opportunities highlighted in the CEA's Manifesto 2024. "The commitment to decarbonisation, digital transformation, and skills development outlined in Labour's platform aligns closely with our industry's goals," said Bell.


She added: "Labour's plans to introduce a new industrial strategy, developed in partnership with businesses through an Industrial Strategy Council, will leverage Britain's strengths in life sciences, digital, creative industries, financial services, and clean power. This collaboration will drive growth and innovation, benefiting the construction equipment industry and the wider economy.

CEA manifesto
The CEA's Manifesto 2024. Pic: CEA 


"The party's promise to build 1.5 million new homes in England over the next five years is a remarkable initiative that will stimulate demand in the construction equipment sector, a level of housebuilding not seen since the 1960s. This very ambitious target and reforms in housebuilding economics and bureaucracy will likely boost private sector participation, benefiting our industry significantly.


"Decarbonisation remains a critical priority for us. Labour's substantial investment of £23.7 billion in green measures during the next parliament emphasises the central role of green policies in driving growth and prosperity. We anticipate robust support from the Labour Government in advancing innovative technologies, including electric and hydrogen-powered machinery. Establishing a national alternative fuel infrastructure is essential, and we look forward to contributing to these transformative efforts."


Labour plans to allocate £1.7 billion a year for the Great British Energy company, which aims to accelerate the roll-out of renewables and nuclear power, creating 650,000 jobs by 2030. "This initiative will drive industrial renewal, lower energy bills, and ensure secure, clean energy supplies, promoting a stable environment for construction projects," stressed Bell.


The CEA Director of Operations continued: "The digitalisation of our industry is another important area. We are ready to collaborate on harmonising digital legislation and enhancing cybersecurity measures. Addressing the skills gap is imperative for maintaining our competitive edge, and we are eager to work with Labour to attract and develop the next generation of talent.


"Lastly, we urge the new government to ensure regulatory stability and alignment with European standards, vital for maintaining our international competitiveness. Together, we can adopt a sustainable, innovative, and prosperous future for the UK construction equipment sector."

Construction pic
UK construction and earthmoving equipment sales increased in May 2024. Pic: CEA


New figures show that UK construction and earthmoving equipment sales increased in May 2024 after falling back in April. This returned sales to an upward path for this year after hitting a low point in January. Sales in May were over 2,600 units, still 19% below levels in the same period in 2023. The pick-up in sales in May is in line with expectations that the market is stable after a difficult start to the year, and equipment sales are expected to show modest growth in the coming months. Despite improvements this year, comparisons with sales last year are still negative due to the exceptionally high sales levels in the first half of 2023.


The pattern of sales for the major equipment types is shown in Graph 2, which compares sales in the first five months of the year with those in the same period in 2023. This shows percentage changes in sales for the different machine types. This continues to show that Wheeled Loaders (-20%) and Telehandlers (for construction) (-22%) were the two best-performing higher-volume products, showing the lowest falls in sales. Road Rollers continue to be the weakest performing product, with sales this year 62% below levels seen in the first five months of last year.


The pattern of sales on a regional basis in the UK is shown on the map (left) for sales in the first five months of the year compared with the same period in 2023. Not surprisingly, all regions continued to see declining sales compared with last year. London was the best-performing region this year, with sales at 18% below 2023 levels. In contrast, the West Midlands has shown the weakest sales, 49% below last year's levels in the first five months, followed by Northern Ireland at 46% below 2023 levels.


Equipment sales in the Republic of Ireland are also reported in the statistics exchange. Sales in May were 11% below 2023 levels and as a result, sales in the first five months of this year are now only 9% behind 2023 levels. This was the first time monthly sales have been above 2023 this year.


The construction equipment statistics exchange is run by Systematics International Ltd. in partnership with the CEA.

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