Buildingtalk round-up of industry reaction to UK Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

  • 6 Dec 2013

As usual, you should turn to the BBC for the best objective ‘at-a glance’ review of the Autumn Statement, and for interesting comment, Robert Preston is always good for the money.

If you want to read the 130 pages of the actual report you can get this for £45 from HM Treasury – or just download it for free from Buildingtalk link above.

Industry overviews

We have included links above to three useful industry overviews:

  • Glenigan
  • Federation of Master Builders (FMB)
  • Glass & Glazing Industry (GGF)

Glenigan Economics Director Allan Wilén the Autumn Statement presents a brighter picture for the UK economy and construction. The official forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has upgraded UK economic growth for next year from 1.8% to 2.4%. This stronger economic performance will be especially welcomed by the construction industry, with economic growth of 2% or more usually a prerequisite for higher construction output. Glenigan is forecasting a 4% rise in project starts next year.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB said that not implementing a reduced rate of VAT on domestic renovation and repair will leave millions of households powerless in the face of rising fuel bills. This would deliver an instant economic fillip and “give Britain’s builders the boost they need to capitalise on the recovery.” 

Nigel Rees, GGF Group Chief Executive reviews the 9 key positive aspects but also highlights several key issues that were not addressed including the failure to reduce VAT from 20% to 5% on energy efficient windows.

Other industry comments

Andrew Halstead-Smith, Group Marketing Manager at Ibstock Brick welcomed the investment in UK infrastructure [announced earlier in the week]; commitment to £1bn of loans to unlock large housebuilding developments; and “the inclusion of two more banks in the Help2Buy scheme marks a further boost to this initiative, which is helping to drive demand for bricks”.

Steven Heath, Knauf Insulation’s External Affairs Director warned that reducing the carbon reduction component of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) will cost jobs. The original ambition was to retrofit 14 million homes by 2022, so has this Autumn Statement brought us any closer to that?  In a word, ‘no’.

Tim Deathridge, managing director of Sto, a leading manufacturer of external insulation, warns that “Ministers’ decision to reduce support for energy efficiency improvements to homes will risk both jobs and investment and hit the poorest the hardest”.

Michael Dall, lead economist at construction intelligence specialist, Barbour ABI said that the Autumn Statement gave some cause for cautious optimism for housing but “the announcements made are largely just tinkering around the edges. Plans such as £1bn investment in infrastructure over six years to unlock large housing sites only scratch the surface in tackling the UK’s housing shortfall”.

Mike Pigott, head of power at Turner & Townsend : “After several years of flirting, the Chancellor is shouting his love for shale gas from the rooftops. Attractive tax break for shale drillers, coupled with an earlier relaxation in planning restrictions, should persuade many of the energy companies who have been holding off on UK shale to take the plunge.

John Allan, Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses welcomes focus of tax cuts on encouraging firms to take on younger workers.

Murray Rowden, Managing Director of infrastructure at Turner & Townsend: “The Chancellor recognises the power of infrastructure to drive long-term economic growth”

The Freight Transport Association bemoaned the failure to reduce fuel duty but welcomed the commitment to“maintain differential between the main rate of fuel duty and that for road fuel gases for the next ten years”.

Alexander Jackman, Head of Policy at the Forum of Private Business welcomed positive measures to help reduce the costs of doing business: fuel duty frozen, £1,000 rebate on business rates and a subsidy on employing young people.

UK Green Building Council chief executive Paul King said that the chancellor is right to say ‘going green doesn’t have to cost the earth’ – if only he practised what he preached. Tax cuts for shale gas are a stark comparison to the butchering of ECO.

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary: “Growth may be returning but families are getting poorer”.

Construction union UCATT: “It was a kick in the teeth on pensions”

 …. and the final word goes to

Chris Mould from The Trussell Trust, a charity that provides Foodbanks for the poor around the UK, delivering over 500,000 x3 day emergency ‘rations’ since April. He said that the recovery is not filtering down and low-income families are teetering on a financial knife-edge. “We need urgent cross-party action on food poverty, and we are calling for an inquiry into the causes of UK hunger”.

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