Industry leaders at the UK’s biggest contractors have said the Conservative Party best understands the needs of construction.

As the country goes to the polls, the construction industry has given the Tories an overwhelming endorsement.

Results from the Construction News Barometer Q1 2015 showed that 73.8 per cent of those surveyed believed the Tories understood the industry better than their rivals, compared with only 19 per cent saying the same of the Labour Party.

Meanwhile, 87.8 per cent of those surveyed revealed they planned to vote Conservative in the general election.

This compared with 4.9 per cent of industry leaders who said they would vote Labour and the same proportion who opted for Ukip.

Only 2.4 per cent of those surveyed said they would be backing the Liberal Democrats.

However, a significant rump of respondents said they believed that none of the main parties had a grip on the industry’s importance.

“I don’t think any of the parties really understand the true issues facing the construction industry and neither of the leading parties has given the sector a seat at the top table,” one respondent said.

Another added that not only did politicians not understand the sector, they did not care about it either.

The respondent said this was because the construction industry had failed to “speak with a single voice”.

The results were collated earlier this week as polls ahead of today’s vote continued to put the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck.

CN readers back Tories

An online poll of Construction News readers has also found strong support for the Tories ahead of the election.

Just over 60 per cent of respondents said they were likely to vote Conservative, more than three times as many as Labour.

Ukip trailed in third with 7 per cent.

Full results:

  • Conservatives - 60.2%
  • Labour - 19.3%
  • Ukip - 7.1%
  • Lib Dem - 5.1%
  • Green - 3%
  • Other - 5.1%

Meanwhile, a survey by plant hire company Hewden revealed more than half – 53 per cent – of construction workers who intended to vote this year were unclear on the different policies being proposed.

Of those surveyed, one in 10 said they did not know when the election was taking place.

In the latest Construction News Barometer, opinion was divided over which sector should be given priority by the next government, with new housing proving most popular on 24.4 per cent.

Energy and schools/hospitals came second with 14.6 per cent, while planning followed with 12 per cent.

Eighty-eight per cent of respondents agreed that the next government should appoint a dedicated secretary for infrastructure to the cabinet.

Of those, 57 per cent said housing should be included in the remit of the infrastructure secretary, while only 4.7 per cent said housing needed its own seat in the cabinet.

On high-speed rail, over half of those surveyed (58 per cent) said phases one and two through to Manchester and Leeds should be prioritised.

That compared with 19 per cent who said an HS3 east to west line should be prioritised to improve transport in the north of England, and 20.9 per cent who said they did not support the business case for a high speed rail at all.

Lack of skills was flagged as the greatest concern for the industry over the next 12 months, with 78 per cent of those surveyed saying it would be an issue.

Contractors also rated the top three challenges facing their business today. The skills shortage was rated as most important, followed by low tender prices and client demands.

Around three-quarters of respondents said they expected problem contracts to cost their business up to £25m in 2015.

Meanwhile, one industry leader said problem contracts would cost their business more than £100m, with another estimating problem contracts could cost between £51m and £100m.

Sixty-eight per cent of contractors also revealed that a supplier working on more than one of their projects had stopped trading in the last 12 months.

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