A local politician has sought assurances from the Welsh Government about the collapse of a major construction company.
Joyce Watson AM, who is chair of the Assembly’s construction cross-party group, raised an urgent ‘topical question’ to economy minister Ken Skates yesterday (Wednesday 20 March).
Speaking in the Senedd, Mrs Watson spoke up for workers, for suppliers, and for all impacted by Dawnus Construction going into administration, including projects in Powys and Pembrokeshire.
She asked the minister for a statement on the impact of the collapse, and Ken Skates AM, Minister for Economy and Transport, said:
“This is clearly very disappointing for the company, the workforce, the clients and the wider Welsh construction supply chain.
“We stand ready to do all that we can to support the workers through the work of a taskforce that I have asked to be established immediately.”
Labour Mid and West Wales Assembly Member Joyce Watson responded:
“My immediate concern is for the workers and their families, and for those left out of pocket throughout the supply chain. It must be a very worrying time for them.
“There’s also a need to ensure that any apprentices that are caught up in this are supported, and Construction Industry Training Body (CITB) have indicated that they are willing to help, and have helped in other situations like this.
“When a large company like Dawnus goes into administration it puts smaller, local businesses at risk, potentially having a devastating impact on those local economies.
“Dawnus directly employ 700 people. That is a large number but there is a much larger potential number of those affected within those localities. These are not just numbers of people but they are real families being affected.
“I am keen to know what support is available from Welsh Government to all the companies and workers who have been affected by this worrying news.
“In my constituency of Mid and West Wales Dawnus were contracted to build a 360-pupil English-medium primary school, a 150-pupil Welsh-medium primary school in Welshpool, and a replacement for Ysgol Bro Hyddgen in Machynlleth.
“The Welshpool English-medium school was scheduled for completion in September.
“They were also contracted to deliver the £1.1 million Chimneys Link road and redevelopment scheme in Fishguard, which has currently been halted.
“Minister, what discussions are Welsh Government having with the industry, to ensure that the projects I have mentioned in Mid and West Wales, and others contracted to Dawnus in other areas of Wales, are successfully delivered?”
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy and Transport responded:
“May I thank Joyce Watson for her questions and join her in expressing my deep sympathies for the many families that have been affected by this very distressing news, and who will be assisted by the taskforce.”
He mentioned previous taskforces convened for companies that have lost human resources. He added:
“I am confident that we will be able to find many employment opportunities elsewhere in the sector.
“The member raised a number of important points including the future of the apprentices and businesses that were employed on various projects through the supply chain.
“I can confirm that we have engaged with Construction Industry Training Body (CITB), so as many of the apprentices as possible can complete their frameworks and go on to secure long term sustainable employment within the sector.”
He stated that the challenge affects all parts of Wales and is a national one, and the taskforce will be making interventions across the country as necessary.
Mr Skates continued:
“We will be working with the administrator, partner agencies and the private sector to ensure the best possible outcome for all affected.
“We will also work with local government over the many schools programmes, flood defence schemes and infrastructure projects to ensure the public purse is protected and as many projects as possible can be taken forward through sub-contractors or through alternative arrangements.
“This is a very distressing time for many businesses and many families, but Welsh Government and the Development Bank of Wales stand ready to assist wherever they can.”