Business roundup

Nine firms have signed-up to the Construction Supply Chain Payment Charter. They are Barratt Developments, Berkeley Group, British Land, Imtech UK, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Skanska, Stanford Industrial Concrete Flooring and Stepnell. See article here

EngineeringUK is looking for support for “Tomorrow’s Engineer’s Week” between 3 and 7 November. The aim is to create a buzz around engineering and promote careers to young people. The week was launched by Department for Business, Innovation and Skills last year and involved over 70 engineering organisations, 65 events and 200 schools. Visit

The PIP Equity Fund, the first investment fund set up by the UK Pension Infrastructure Platform (PIP), has completed its first investment. According to Dalmore Capital which manages the fund, the PIP has purchased a stake in a holding company for private finance initiative assets from construction company Interserve's pension fund. The portfolio includes interests in education, healthcare, defence and accommodation projects.  The PIP Equity Fund is the first pooled infrastructure fund for pension funds in the UK and is expected to invest at the low-risk end of the infrastructure asset spectrum. Seven institutional investors including the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), British Airways Pensions and the Strathclyde and West Midlands Pension Funds committed £260M to the fund, which will be capped at £500M.

Atkins, Mace and Areva have been announced as preferred bidder to restart Sellafield’s nuclear waste encapsulation project. The £800M - £1.4bn scheme for the Silos Direct-encapsulation Plant was retendered after Vinci and Nuvia pulled staff off the job two years ago when the contract was halted after significant cost overruns.

The six Local Enterprise Partnerships in the West Midlands have agreed on priorities for transport spending including investment in the road and rail network, improving links to HS2 and developing freight activity at Birmingham Airport. In Birmingham and Solihull alone more than £340M of transport projects including three extensions to the Midland Metro are planned.

Infrastructure costs for major transport schemes are set to grow over the next five years as projects face rising labour and material prices, RICS is forecasting. The institution suggests civil engineering tender prices could see a 24% rise by the end of 2018, with construction demand and strengthened labour bargaining positions providing more leverage to negotiate higher wages. Further rises in wages are expected despite a 3% increase being negotiated for workers in 2014 and 2015, with agreements for a 4% rise anticipated in 2017 and 2018. While civil engineering tender prices have already risen to 12% above their pre-recession peak, price rises are set to moderate to between 3% and 5% over the next five years.

Gregory Hodkinson has taken over the role of Arup Chairman. He is joined by deputy chairmen Tristram Carfrae and David Whittleton. Together they will lead a global group of more than 11,500 staff members with turnover in excess of £1bn. Hodkinson joined Arup in 1972 and worked on major urban development and transport projects in Australia and the UK, before leading the firm’s expansion in the USA in 1988 as a Founding Principal of the New York office. Hodkinson became Chairman of the Americas Region in 2004 and in 2011 moved to Milan to lead the firm’s European business.

Consultation has opened on a major review of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The ten-week consultation will gauge the industry’s reaction to proposed changes including replacing the CDM co-ordinator role with a principal designer role. The consultation is open from 31 March until 6 June 2014. The full document can be found here