Reactions to Autumn Statement:
Construction Products Association
Dr Diana Montgomery, Chief Executive of the Construction Products Association, commented on today’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement:
“Though there were few surprises for our industry from the Chancellor, the most relevant highlights concern the new Apprenticeship Levy, the government’s plans for affordable housing and the confirmed support for industrial strategies throughout this Parliament.
“Some in our industry will be pleased to hear the Chancellor clarify its ambitions for the Apprenticeship Levy. Today we learned that it will be paid on payrolls in excess of £3 million. The Chancellor suggests that this means less than two percent of UK employers will pay it; however, we estimate the Levy may affect manufacturers with as few as 100 employees. We appreciate the establishment of a new employer-led body to set apprenticeship standards and ensure quality, not quantity. This body needs to include manufacturers and distribution representatives of the construction supply chain. The critical focus must be on a ‘light-touch’ approach that delivers the right skills.
“The government’s plans for housing now include a total of 400,000 new ‘affordable’ homes by 2020, with support for Starter Homes and shared ownership schemes. Our view continues to be that while we’re pleased with the government’s aim to help first time buyers, the housing crisis has less to do with supporting demand and more to do with increasing the supply. Today’s plans – paired with a raft of measures addressing planning reforms, the release of appropriate land for housing and help for SME house builders – may go some way towards achieving that.”
Dr Montgomery added:
“Finally, we’re encouraged to hear the government indicate its support for the industrial strategies. While the details are yet to be revealed, we believe that this commitment to long-term policy measures will underpin business confidence. Today’s statement reflects a range of issues relevant to both the Chancellor and the UK construction industry where a long-term strategy for manufacturing will help boost economic growth and productivity.”
Eric Wright Construction
John Wilson, managing director at Preston-headquartered Eric Wright Construction, said:
“As one of the contractors appointed to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) Regional Contractors Framework and having constructed two UTCs, any investment into the development of education facilities is good news.
“During 2015 we delivered four education projects and are currently working on a further eight schemes, so it’s definitely a sector we will continue to build on during 2016.
“We know that there’s big demand for primary facilities, with 1,600 schools and 11,000 classrooms required over the next decade to accommodate Britain’s growing population, so no doubt there will be growth in this area following the chancellor’s announcements.”
Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB)
Andy Frankish, New Homes Director at Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB), comments:
“Today George Osborne acknowledged the problems facing the housing market as a growing crisis. With homeownership levels in decline and levels of supply far outweighed by demand, it’s fantastic to see policies that encourage homeownership and give customers more choice. Further commitment to shared ownership through the Help to Buy scheme is brilliant for buyers, as this presents a very affordable route onto the property ladder. Restrictions often imposed by local authorities on these types of properties will be removed, giving applicants a fairer chance of accessing shared ownership homes – although admittedly with only 135,000 of these currently pledged, not everyone will benefit.
“London is renowned for its high house prices, so a dedicated Help to Buy scheme for the capital is a golden opportunity for those who have been frozen out of buying in the region altogether. London is a unique market, and the increased 40 per cent equity loan reflects the higher cost of buying in the region. The 200,000 Starter Homes pledged is not new, but is another step in the right direction to improve affordability and consumer choice.
“With good news for the residential market comes another blow for landlords. Imposing higher stamp duty on buy-to-let properties will act as a further disincentive to landlords following the changes to mortgage tax relief announced in the previous Budget, and will be a bitter pill to swallow. However, for residential buyers that are currently competing with investors for desirable properties – particularly new-builds – this will act as a leveller to ensure they aren’t missing out on becoming homeowners because of buy-to-let. By imposing this change, the Government have made their stance in support of homeownership very clear.”
Hampshire Trust Bank
Mark Sismey-Durrant, Chief Executive Officer at Hampshire Trust Bank, comments on the devolution of business rate setting to local councils:
“The new power handed to councils enabling them to set local business rates should boost regional economic prosperity, as councils will now have responsibility for creating thriving local environments for growth. However, with greater power comes greater responsibility. Any potential business rate rises need to be carefully considered in how these could impact the thousands of SMEs which operate across the country. The UK’s smallest businesses need less red tape in order to grow and prosper and therefore we hope to see local councils look to support smaller businesses when making future decisions on business rates.”
Following today’s Spending Review, Tim Willcocks, Assistant Director of Land & New Homes at Radian, one of the South’s leading Housing Associations comments:
“We welcome the Chancellor’s acknowledgement that the UK is still in a ‘housing crisis’ and how he plans to tackle this with substantial increases in funding for affordable housing delivery during the remainder of this parliament.
“The increased support for shared ownership and in particular the removal of current restrictions will help not just first time buyers, but others priced out of the housing market
“Shared ownership has been around for 40 years and is an important part of Radian’s wider housing offer though we will continue to look for ways to develop new homes to meet a wide range of housing needs including affordable rented homes.
“We have already committed to increase our delivery to some 600 homes a year across a range of tenures and continue to look for other ways to help meet different housing needs across our regions.”