After steering the economy and more specifically, the Government’s fiscal response to the Covid crisis over the past two years, today’s Budget will have widely enhanced Rishi Sunak’s reputation for imagination and compassion.
Furlough may have finished but the Chancellor chose to include a range of announcements within his autumn statement which either continued relief for the hardest hit sectors and the lowest paid, or set out new spending plans to boost investment in the UK’s infrastructure and services. The construction industry should see a number of real opportunities to increase its output, as well as encouragements to invest in its personnel and new innovations.
Some existing spending was re-announced or confirmed, but there were billions in new money for the NHS to cut waiting lists by building new facilities, as well as refurbishing existing buildings and boosting pay.
Housing has been a big winner with a £24Billion multi-year commitment to constructing some 180,000 new homes, with a further £1.8 Billion set aside to make brownfield sites across our towns and cities ‘shovel ready’.
5Billion will be made available – partly paid for by a tax on residential property developers with profits of over £24million – to help replace sub-standard cladding currently trapping many leaseholders in homes they cannot sell. And a move to tackle rough sleeping as well as homelessness generally receives £640million.
Transport was another major beneficiary of Treasury spending with £5.7 Billion for “London style settlements” plus a £2.6Billion pipeline to address local road improvements; and £3.8 Billion for the biggest prison building programme in a generation.
There is much needed reform to often crippling business rates with £750million to encourage landlords to make upgrades such as fitting solar panels, or for hotels to add more rooms; by deferring tax rises.
The skills shortage was also tackled with £3.8Billion for training and T courses as well as a new adult numeracy programme – named ‘Multiply’– being unveiled. Education spending also extends to investment in creating 30,000 new places for those with special learning needs and upgrades on school buildings across the sector.
The “Rabbit in the Hat” relief, as normal, was left to the end with Rishi Sunak announcing a cut in tax on Universal Credit Payments, as people’s actual earnings rise, from 63 to 55 pence: meaning a working mother will keep £1,200 a year more of her wages, while a couple with one partner working part-time will be around £1,800 a year better off. That’s a £2Billion a year tax cut which will encourage people to work more hours for their employers.
And for anyone who feels like celebrating, there were a number of changes to help level up alcohol levies: removing disproportionate duty on sparkling wines & cider and even cutting 3P off a pint of draught ale.
Main announcements relating to construction:
Housing – £24billion multi-year investment
184k new affordable homes
£1.8b to prepare Brownfield sites
£5b to remove unsafe cladding, partly raised from a tax on developers with profits over £25m.5
£4.7B for schools
Committing £3.8b for the largest prison building programme for a generation
Hundreds of regional museums and galleries to be renovated
£20b on Research and Development
£5.7 b for London-style transport settlements. Plus £2.6 b for a pipeline of local road improvements
Enough to fill one million more potholes a year!
The plans for jobs will include investment of £3.8b in training and T courses. Plus they’re launching a new numeracy programme for adults called Multiply.
£750m investment relief to encourage businesses to specify green energy such as solar panels – in line with requests from the FSB and British Property Federation.