Budget 2015: ‘Ministers have listened to the construction industry’

The last Budget – March 18 – of this parliament held few surprises for the industry, but voices from the sector assured for co-operation for the next government and hoped for less unnecessary bureaucracy.

Dr Diana Montgomery, chief executive of the Construction Products Association, said: “First, as we have continued to highlight the need for the government to clarify its plans to support house building, we are pleased with the innovative ‘Help to Buy ISA’ scheme. This should stimulate homebuyers’ interest in the near term and housebuilders’ confidence in the medium-term – a tonic to the flattening demand we forecast for the private housing sector after the uncertainty of the general election.

“As one of the largest users of the nation’s road network, the construction industry will certainly benefit from today’s cancellation to this year’s expected fuel duty increase. Not highlighted by the Chancellor is the encouraging plan to work with road haulage firms, many supporting our industry, to address the shortage of qualified drivers.

“Finally, the wider industry, particularly small to medium businesses (SMEs), will recognise the impact of the government’s plans to abolish Class 2 NICs in the next Parliament. The real improvement in this case is not the nominal contribution amount – £137 per annum – but rather the savings by removing another regulatory burden and overhead, which is likely to save thousands of pounds and many hours of time which SMEs can focus elsewhere.

“Frankly, in this last year of the Parliament we did not expect any major revelations, though some of what we’ve heard will certainly benefit our members and the wider construction industry. Of particular interest to us will be the review of business rates flagged by the Chancellor and the related issues of capital allowances for plant and machinery, all of which has a very real effect on inward investment.

“More to the point, policy works best when industry is consulted early and often to help identify problems, review measures, provide solutions and evaluate results. With this in mind, we’re looking forward to working with the parties after the general election so that they can provide long-term clarity and certainty on the issues affecting our business.”

The Renewable Energy Association’s chief executive, Dr Nina Skorupska, said: “We welcome the government’s ambition and willingness to invest in renewable energy infrastructure confirmed in the Budget. The procurement of renewable energy is crucial to meet the UK’s legally binding energy targets in a cost-effective manner, improving energy security and delivering skilled jobs and inward investment.

“However, our members will feel strongly that there was a missed opportunity to spread this commitment more widely to renewable power generation and renewable heat – both of which would thrive under a more stable regulatory framework which is fairer to smaller suppliers.

“We challenge the next government to level the playing field for emerging technologies and create a policy framework which provides long-term certainty for investors.”

The government’s proposed voucher model for apprenticeship funding is an improvement on what was formerly proposed and shows that Ministers have listened to th