In response to today’s Chancellor’s Spring Statement, Clair Prosser, BSRIA Press Officer, said:
“BSRIA members will be reassured by the Chancellor’s statement on the state of the UK’s fiscal health and future prosperity where ‘easing the squeeze’ was key.
It’s heartening to see a boost in the state of the UK’s public finances and justifiably judicious to set some aside for the future with Brexit ambiguity still compromising the UK’s purse strings.
Domestic economic growth continues to be tepid which highlights how crucial it is to seize a Brexit that yields engineering and construction industry jobs and careers and an industrial strategy that helps restores UK output for BSRIA members the length and breadth of the UK.
The Chancellor said GDP growth would be 1.4 per cent this year, 0.1 per cent higher than forecast, with the forecast for 2019 and 2020 unchanged at 1.3 per cent.
On housing – he declared that London would get a supplementary £1.7bn of funding to deliver 26,000 affordable homes, including homes for social rent. This takes the overall number to more than 116,000 by the end of 2021/22.
Outside of the capital he announced a housing deal with the West Midlands to build 215,000 homes by 2031 through a £100 million grant from the Land Remediation Fund. To unlock homes in areas of high demand – he said that government was working with 44 areas on their bids for funding from the £4.1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, and the Housing Growth Partnership, which provides financial support for small housebuilders, will be more than doubled to £220 million.
The Chancellor said that ‘at the heart of our plan for building an economy that works for everyone is our commitment to tackle the challenges in our housing market’ and that ‘we are concluding housing deals with ambitious authorities who have agreed to deliver above their Local Housing Need’.
He added ‘the Housing Minister will make further announcements on the over the next few days on the Housing Infrastructure Fund’.
The UK’s housing crisis is, without a shadow of doubt, one of the biggest challenges we face as a country and such investment is needed to attract, train and retain workers to build the houses we need. But members and industry will only really be encouraged when we start to see a spade in the ground. Certainly – the smoke signals look good but we must truly start to think big.
Fast action is needed to adjust and amend the Apprenticeship Levy. Its lack of flexibility and complexity are concerns for BSRIA members, so it was inauspicious to miss this chance to grasp this topic head on. A revamped apprenticeship levy – with a robust skills and careers strategy – is much needed by industry.”