Spring Budget 2024: construction industry responses

Spring Budget 2024: construction industry responses

Following the Spring Budget Statement from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, PBM rounds up a number of responses from bodies representing the merchant and construction sectors:

Builders Merchants Federation

“A missed opportunity to get Britain building”

John Newcomb, BMF CEO, said: “The Chancellor has missed an opportunity to get Britain building again, with little of real consequence in a budget designed to buy short term electoral support rather than promote the long-term economic success of the country.

“Despite a steep decline in housebuilding over the past 12 months, there was no fresh impetus to speed the building of new and affordable homes in areas where they are most needed. Nor was there support for a vital national retrofit strategy – a key BMF ask of the Chancellor – that would  improve the energy efficiency of our existing homes, generate new skilled jobs, and boost local growth throughout the country.

“The budget speech was an exercise in clearing the decks before the General Election. We cannot help but be disappointed at the lack of fresh impetus for our supply chain, given the economic and societal benefits of new house-building and improving existing homes.”

*** Related News: Selco hosts PM and Chancellor on Budget Day ***

Hours after delivering the Spring Budget, Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt paid a visit to Selco’s Old Kent Road branch.

Federation of Master Builders

“A missed opportunity to build”

This year’s Spring Budget (delivered on Wednesday 6 March 2024) was a “missed opportunity to build new homes and improve the ones we have, to make them more energy efficient” which the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) says would have stimulated economic growth across the county.

FMB CEO Brian Berry commented: “The Budget could have been an opportunity to kickstart the housing market with house building rates stagnant, but the Chancellor has done nothing. It was also disappointing there were no new measures to help homeowners improve the energy efficiency of their homes. This was an opportunity to reform the planning system, boost local authority planning teams’ capacities, and review the financial burdens the planning system places on smaller house builders, but again these much-needed reforms have been overlooked.

Brian continued: “The Chancellor could have helped to close the construction skills gap ensuring the UK has the workers with the green skills needed to retrofit the UK’s homes, and provided support to help small builders deal with the administrative burden of training apprentices. All these areas could have grown the economy, instead builders got left behind – this Budget was a missed opportunity.”

Brian concluded: “The Chancellor’s announcement to increase the VAT threshold for small businesses from £85,000 to £90,000 is welcome but the rate has been frozen for seven years so in real terms it makes little difference.”

National Federation of Builders

“Spring Budget is back to finance and not strategy” 

While the 2023 Autumn Statement saw the Chancellor, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, stray into enabling growth through policy strategy and support, the Spring Budget 2024 was more traditional, with the ambition of growth coming through taxation, rather than business enablement.

Richard Beresford, NFB Chief Executive, said: “The Spring Budget offers opportunities to offset costs, invest in innovations and see paths to growth but apart from a strong hand played on energy, it doesn’t enable growth in practice. With the lack of firm planning and procurement reforms, and retrofit entirely left out, there is disquiet that the major growth opportunities will never be realised by this government.”

Within the full budget release, the Chancellor identified that 2024 was the ‘year of the SME’ and while reduced taxation, investment allowance and investment opportunity will be welcomed, the dire state of planning policy, lack of supply ambition and numerous new taxes will, and is already seeing, SME housebuilders and regional contractors exit the sector or go out of business.

Rico Wojtulewicz, Head of Housing and Market Insight at the NFB, commented: “It’s hard to not welcome long overdue grid strategies and some announcements such as digitising and integrating AI into planning, bringing forward nutrient neutrality investment, and enabling more social housing are hugely welcomed.

“However, it’s all a little too late. Planning digitisation has been a key plank of our lobbying for almost a decade. Nutrient neutrality investment is the Government’s response to dropping solutions that they proposed.

“In addition, the increase in social and affordable housing funding feels like a stats fudge because the Chancellor realises Michael Gove’s policies are decimating the supply of market housing.”

British Safety Council

Peter McGettrick, British Safety Council Chairman, said: “The Chancellor was clearly building on his Autumn Statement with a number of measures to encourage investment in British businesses, intended to support people in work and boost growth. This includes the cut to National Insurance, as well as a new British ISA and changes to help small businesses. There were also further measures to support people with the rising cost of living and a welcome extension of support for those most in need, although we know inflation continues to create a challenging operating environment for businesses and individuals alike.

“Investment announced by the Chancellor to boost NHS productivity and increase capacity in the health system will be welcomed by those awaiting treatment and would help people remain in or return to work. A tax on vapes is welcome if it can discourage more young people from taking up the habit and getting addicted to nicotine, but must be combined with support for people to give up smoking.

“With commitments to improving the efficiency of key public services, we would also urge the Chancellor to commit to ensuring that the Health and Safety Executive and its Buildings Safety Regulator receive adequate funding, through its sponsor body the Department for Work and Pensions, allowing them to fully fulfil their core respective purposes of making our homes and workplaces safer for all.”

British Safety Council is the UK’s leading health, safety and wellbeing charity, whose vision is that no one is made ill or injured through their work.


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