Commenting on the recent Summer Economic Update from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), says, “I strongly welcome the package of measures announced. While these initial investments will kickstart construction and training, the Government must build on these commitments in the Autumn to ensure that growth and jobs are sustained beyond next year.”
On the Green Homes Grant, he adds, “Grant-funded vouchers are a step in the right direction to launching the retrofit market, and supporting consumers to build with confidence after the pandemic. We hope at the Autumn Budget the Chancellor will bring forward the rest of the £9.2bn manifesto commitment, and support the development of private finance initiatives that will ensure the market grows in a sustainable way.
“We have an army of local builders ready to deliver these works to a high standard, provide local employment, and generate economic activity in each corner of the UK. The Chancellor has demonstrated his willingness to introduce targeted, temporary cuts in VAT. We hope he will retain, as a possibility, a cut to 5% for home improvement works to further boost demand.”
Commenting on the support for jobs retention and creation, he furthers, “The schemes underpinning job retention, and traineeship and apprenticeship guarantees are welcome news for construction, which has persistently struggled to hire into key trades like bricklaying and carpentry. The Chancellor is right to highlight the need for a new generation of talent, and support should be directed toward this strategic industry. That 71% of apprentices in construction are trained by local builders, and typically over a three-year period, means the scheme must be accessible to small to medium-sized firms (SMEs).
“Converting these short-term measures into long-term jobs requires careful matching of individuals to the right firm. While we train the tradespeople of tomorrow, it’s great news for SME construction firms that they will be able to access the new Talent Retention Scheme to reduce the risk of redundancy. This will protect against a repeat of the severe job losses experienced by construction during the last recession.”
On Stamp Duty cuts, he stresses that, “Temporary cuts in Stamp Duty will boost the housing market and remove a black cloud that hangs over many second-time house hunters. I’m particularly pleased this is taking place with immediate effect, as we know that potential homeowners typically look for a new home in September. Today’s confirmation of the extension of the Home Building Fund targeted at SMEs is also welcome. Looking ahead to measures to rebuild the economy, investment in planning departments and streamlining of the planning application process will be needed to ensure we also bring forward new development to ease our housing crisis.”