Organisations from the industry comment on the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget Statement 2021 to the House of Commons.
Builders Merchants Federation
John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation, said: “The Chancellor largely struck the right notes in announcing continued support for business as we move through the final stages of the coronavirus roadmap and plan for recovery.
“We were particularly pleased that the Chancellor sought to support smaller businesses by recognising the need for continued furlough support and business rates discounts, which will help our SME members as they return to pre-covid levels of operation. Similar extensions to self-employment grants will help small builders and other trades who form the main merchant customer base and ensure they are still in business to service the needs of homeowners helped by the new government-backed mortgage guarantee scheme and the extension of the Stamp Duty Holiday.
“We also welcome the announcement of a new UK Infrastructure Bank which was a key ask of our Construction Leadership Council colleagues, and noted the reference to investment by construction firms in the Chancellor’s announcement of his Super Deduction tax initiative. Clearly, he is looking to the construction industry to help drive economic recovery.
“However, while the Chancellor spoke of the Government’s commitment to Green Growth, we were disappointed that this announcement did not include support for a National Retrofit Strategy. This would not only upgrade the country’s housing stock to the highest levels of energy efficiency, but would also provide a platform to upskill the building trade with skills required both to retrofit existing homes and build low carbon new homes, helping to achieve the Government’s Net Zero ambition.”
Federation of Master Builders
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “In the year of COP26, the Chancellor missed an opportunity in today’s Budget to show global leadership with a long-term plan to make our homes greener, healthier, and more affordable to run. The Government’s commitment to green growth must include backing for a National Retrofit Strategy – an oven-ready infrastructure plan that will tackle climate change, level up and create jobs. While we welcome the funding announced for the UK Infrastructure Bank, we expect to see it use its focus on climate change and regional growth to back Britain’s army of small builders who stand ready to help build back better, and greener.
“In better news, builders who are struggling to recover from the pandemic will welcome the extension of support set out by the Government today, particularly those in Scotland who are still unable to work inside people’s homes. I am glad the Chancellor listened to the FMB's calls to extend the Stamp Duty holiday. New Government guarantees on 95% mortgages will also boost confidence and protect jobs. What’s needed now is increased investment in local authority planning departments so that we can get shovels in the ground on small sites. The doubling of support for businesses who hire an apprentice is also a win for the FMB. 71% of construction apprentices are trained by small to medium-sized (SME) firms, and the extra support for my members is welcome.”
Bathroom Manufacturers Association
BMA Chief Executive, Tom Reynolds, said: “Reducing the energy and water demand of our 27 million homes is crucial to achieving our national environmental targets.
“It was disappointing to see no reference to the National Retrofit Strategy in the budget. It has the potential to unlock hundreds of thousands of jobs and generate an economic stimulus across the country, making a considerable contribution to the ‘levelling up’ agenda.
“The stamp duty relief and new mortgage guarantee is great news for the housing market, and BMA members. A large proportion of bathroom improvement works takes place after home moves, so these announcements will keep buoyancy in the sector.
“The focus must now be on ensuring the national retrofit strategy is fully and unequivocally adopted by the Government in the Comprehensive Spending Review in the Autumn, which coincides with COP26.
“The chancellor has made clear, borrowing will be cut from 2023 onwards. He has set the scene on public spending in the future so we need to press for a proper retrofitting plan now.”
Construction Products Association
Peter Caplehorn, Chief Executive of the CPA, said: “The government announced its Spring Budget, with a series of policy and funding announcements relevant to CPA members and industry. It is important to note however that given some of these may be ‘re-announcements’ of existing commitments or allocations of existing funding, the full interpretation of today’s announcements will take longer to analyse.
“We knew beforehand that the Budget would focus primarily on the recovery from the virus and job protection; therefore, we are not surprised that construction per se was not a major beneficiary today. Still, members will note in particular the trial of ‘super deductions’ for business investment; extension of the stamp duty holiday; further detail on a UK infrastructure bank and commitment to boosting science and innovation, as well as a doubling of incentives for apprenticeships.
“We must also point out our disappointment that there was little in the Budget on energy-efficient retrofit of the existing housing stock, given the importance that government has placed on Net Zero – particularly in the year of COP26 – and especially given the concern over government’s delivery under the Green Homes Grant.”
Rebecca Larkin, Senior Economist at the CPA, said: "Support for construction is largely indirect, through the extension of broader economic measures such as the stamp duty holiday, employment scheme and business grant and loan packages.
"With these now in place through to September, the UK’s recovery should hopefully be on a firmer footing at that point, helping to underpin demand and confidence for new construction projects.
"Once again, infrastructure and green investment have risen up the agenda, but it is worth highlighting that the £12 billion funding for the new UK Infrastructure Bank represents only a small proportion of the overall £600 billion government pipeline of projects."
Construction Industry Training Board
Steve Radley, Policy Director for the Construction Industry Training Board, said: “With the recovery from the crisis in sight, this welcome investment in infrastructure, traineeships and the new flexible apprenticeships, similar to our own shared apprenticeships scheme, will help support thousands of people into the construction industry just as employers are looking to hire them. Many employers reluctantly opted out of taking on an apprentice last autumn and extending the incentive to employ them is the right support at the right time.
“Extending traineeships will build stronger links with Further Education and build a bridge into apprenticeships and jobs for many young people. Our work with FE and employers on construction traineeships has demonstrated that both groups are committed to making this work.
“Government should build on this by quickly delivering on its pledge to help Apprenticeship Levy payers transfer their unspent funds to where they are needed, giving many smaller firms the firepower to drive the acceleration in apprenticeships to deliver the jobs-led growth the PM has promised.”
Saint-Gobain Off-Site Solutions
Ross Baxter, Managing Director of Saint-Gobain Off-Site Solutions, which comprises Pasquill, Roofspace Solutions, International Timber, Intrastack and Scotframe, said: “The housebuilding and construction industry are an essential part of the UK economy and its resilience has been severely put to the test over the past 12 months. I welcome the Chancellor’s positive announcements, which seek to provide reassurance to manufacturers, suppliers and house builders as well as homebuyers.
“The two-year tax deductible on investments will allow us to drive forward with our plans for continuous improvement, growing both our services and product portfolio. Meanwhile, mortgage guarantees and the extension of the stamp duty holiday until 1 June will keep the market moving and provide continuity of work for everyone in the sector, so we can deliver on the ambition to build back better.”
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Christian Cubitt, Head of UK Government Affairs at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said: “With the country finally able to begin looking beyond COVID-19 thanks to the vaccination programme, this budget delivers the incentives needed that will help build our way toward economic recovery.
“From getting thousands more young people onto the housing ladder to breaking ground on transformative projects backed by a new UK Infrastructure Bank, the billions invested represent a shot in the arm for the sector and the levelling up agenda.
“Extending the business rates holiday and discounting these costs for the rest of the year is another positive step, particularly for small business that have arguably been hit hardest by the global pandemic.
“When it comes to stamp duty what we really need to see, and what RICS has been calling for, is a full and thorough review of all property taxation. We will also continue to call for a VAT cut for builders looking to retrofit existing homes – an important step in really helping to deliver a greener Britain.”
Chartered Institute of Building
Eddie Tuttle, Director for Policy, External Affairs & Research at the CIOB, said: “The construction sector has relied upon Covid-19 support schemes over the past year in order to keep building. We are pleased to see that the Chancellor has extended the self-employment scheme to the end of September to offer certainty to businesses in the sector as well as protect the large numbers of newly self-employed construction workers.
“However, we are concerned that the Government has missed an opportunity to truly support the industry by failing to suspend the implementation of the VAT reverse charge, which will have potentially severe consequences for the cash flow of firms that have been hit hardest by lockdown. Perhaps most disappointing is the complete lack of mention of decarbonisation of the built environment and absence of any reference in the Budget to the struggling Green Homes Grant scheme. The UK’s built environment accounts for approximately 40 per cent of our total carbon emissions, and any attempt to forge a green industrial revolution must address the energy efficiency of buildings as a matter of priority if it is to succeed.”
UK Green Building Council
Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UKGBC: “In his speech today, the Chancellor insisted that this country needs a real commitment to green growth and to create jobs where people are. However, ‘build back business as usual’ would be a more fitting description for the Government’s plans to build back better.
“We are still none the wiser about the fate of the Green Homes Grant scheme, which just a few short months ago the Chancellor told us would support over 100,000 jobs in green construction up and down the country. UKGBC, together with many others in our industry, have strongly advocated that the £1.4bn of unspent funding be rolled over to 2021/22, but today’s Budget leaves both industry and householders still in the dark.
“Beyond the opportunities for green investment offered by the Infrastructure Bank and new green gilt and retail savings product, this Budget appears to ignore the huge part that greening our buildings can play in delivering our post-Covid economic recovery. Tackling carbon emissions from buildings – particularly the existing housing stock – is not easy, but we cannot afford to duck the challenge any longer.
“The chancellor’s emphasis on local growth is also welcome, as we recognise that local authorities have a vital role to play in seizing local green growth opportunities. However, local authorities alone cannot deliver the change we need without central government leading from the front. The Chancellor’s ‘investment-led’ green recovery should not ignore the voice of the industry calling for a national retrofit strategy to unlock vital green jobs across the whole country.”
Construction Equipment Association
Rob Oliver, CEA Chief Executive Officer, said: “Whilst the necessary extension of the furlough scheme and additional support for Covid-19 challenged business was welcome and expected, there were also some interesting initiatives that may be of direct benefit to the construction sector.
“The announcement of a “Super Deduction” for capital investment should stimulate decisions from companies currently undecided about their expenditure plans. For every £100 they spend, they will receive a tax credit of £130. The ability to carry back company losses for three years against earlier profits will also help the cash flow of many companies.
“I believe that the “super deduction” is based on a scheme successfully introduced in Slovakia. We look forward to reviewing the details, but on the face of it, it looks like it will be a great time to renew the machine fleets of plant hirers and contractors. These tax concessions are clearly a quid pro quo for swallowing a corporation tax hike in the future.”
This page will be updated as further reactions become available.