The 80 page Farmer Review has a 'by the sector, for the sector' feel to it. As a result there are sections that focus on the minutiae of what key trade bodies need to be doing to respond to a stark picture of low productivity, poor skills and old fashioned procurement. If the built environment sector wants to see a change in behaviour a detailed prescription is probably needed.
The section on the impact of Brexit and an ageing workforce is well linked to the need to improve amount of offsite manufacturing with compelling data, reinforced by case studies. Perhaps more could have been said on dis-benefits of offsite manufacturing such as the requirement to ensure excellent logistics and the onsite assembly expertise. Whilst there is much reference to the cyclical nature of the sector this is not translated into how this creates risks from investing in manufacturing capability that will act as a dead weight in a downturn. However the absence of some counter arguments does not mean that I disagree with the fundamental view that, as a nation, we need to catch up with some of neighbours and embrace more offsite manufacturing.
Will the sector do this? Farmer on Page 66 scopes a possible 0.05% tax imposed on construction buyers if they do not change their purchasing behaviour and specify more pre manufactured construction and embrace collaborative working. The plastic bag tax is cited as a model. I cannot see this working in practice. Selective incentives/carrots are more likely to work better than trying to enforce taxes on activities that will be difficult to define precisely.
The Singapore case study on page 44 is the best example of what a 'post farmer' world would look like. It is a persuasive picture and Farmer is probably giving us a good blue print of how to get there.
On the 12 Janaury 2017 Mark Farmer appeared in front of the DCLG Select Committee and this session included comments about his report. Subsequently he was interviewed on radio 4. Here is the recording.