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Actuate UK looks to drive change

UK: Actuate UK is the name of the new umbrella body for the multi-billion pound UK engineering services sector launched today. 

The new group, comprising eight leading trade, technology, research and professional bodies, succeeds the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group, which was closed at the end of last year.

The new organisation will continue the work of the SEC in respect of commercial issues in the areas of payments, procurement and contracts, but expands the agenda to represent the interests of the sector on four key issues: the new post-Covid world of business; Hackitt – post-Grenfell competence and compliance; skills for the new environment; and climate crisis and net zero target.

Actuate UK brings together the Building Engineering and Services Association (BESA), the Building Services Research and Industry Association (BSRIA), the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA), the Lift and Escalator Industry Association (LEIA),  the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Scotland (SELECT) and the Scottish and NI Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF).

In that respect, the new group comprises the same members of the SEC, minus the British Constructional Steelwork Association but with the addition of HVACR manufacturers’ group, FETA, the research and consultancy organisation, BSRIA, and consultants’ body, CIBSE. 

It even occupies the former SEC offices within the BESA/ECA London headquarters, but differs from the SEC group in its management structure. Maria Balermpa is operations and public affairs manager – the role she previously held at the SEC – but there is no chief executive or chairman, as was the case with the SEC. Instead, it will operate with an executive team comprising the heads of the member organisations: Steve Bratt (ECA), Russell Beattie (FETA), Stephen Matthews (CIBSE) Julia Evans (BSRIA), David Frise (BESA), Fiona Hodgson (SNIPEF), Nick Mellor (LEIA) and Alan Wilson (SELECT).  

Explaining the new group, BESA CEO David Frise explained: “We supply the essential elements that bring buildings to life. We actuate the built environment, literally the air that you breathe, and the water you drink. We light you and power your equipment for work and entertainment. We keep you comfortable. And if we succeed as designers, you’re not even aware of what we’ve done. 

“It is often only when things don’t work, then you recognise the true value of engineering services. engineering services are vital to the economy of the UK. 

“The name Actuate UK underlines an action orientated approach, not just talking about change, we want to enable sustained and positive change,” he added.

Together, the UK engineering services sector comprises over 60,000 firms and over 350,000 skilled professionals, employees and contractors. It makes up some 40% of UK construction by value.

Seeing itself as an agent for positive change, Actuate UK says it supports the delivery of a safer, more productive and sustainable UK built environment. Together with other bodies, it intends to play a key role by supporting essential national initiatives, such as the Construction Leadership Council’s Recovery Roadmap, the Construction Playbook and strategic economic plans in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, building safety reform and the drive for zero net carbon.

Related stories:

Engineering services bodies to form alliance19 January 2021
UK: Eight of the UK’s premier engineering services bodies, including FETA, BESA, BSRIA and CIBSE, are to form a major new industry alliance as an agent for change. Read more…

SEC Group to close27 December 2020
UK: The Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group, which since its inception in 1993 has lobbied for SMEs working within the construction industry, is to close. Read more…

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