Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a £30bn ‘Plan for Jobs’ to save money, cut carbon, and support around 140,000 jobs
The Plan for Jobs aims to boost economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The plan includes £1bn of support for the unemployed, which will allow more money for skills, traineeships, and apprenticeships.
£2bn of the Plan for Jobs investment will go towards Green Homes Grants for homeowners and landlords to insulate properties.
From September, homeowners and landlords will be able to apply for vouchers to make their homes more energy-efficient and create local jobs. The grants will cover at least two-thirds of the cost, up to £5,000 per household.
Sunak also revealed he would raise the Stamp Duty threshold on house sales to £500,000 from £125,000 until next March to boost the housing market.
Along with these measures, furloughed workers are being offered a £1,000 bonus. This will act as an incentive for employers who successfully bring furloughed staff back.
He said: “The construction sector adds £39bn a year to the UK economy.
“Housebuilding alone supports nearly three quarter of a million jobs, with millions more relying on the availability of housing to find work.
“But property transactions fell by 50% in May. House prices have fallen for the first time in eight years. And uncertainty abounds in the market – a market we need to be thriving.
“We need people feeling confident – confident to buy, sell, renovate, move and improve. That will drive growth. That will create jobs.”
‘Further stimulus to the economy’
Paul Gandy, managing director of Interserve Construction, said: “As one of the country’s leading education and healthcare contractors we welcome the chancellor’s announcement regarding the government’s green building agenda for schools and hospitals, his investment in traineeships for 18- to-24-year-olds and apprenticeships.
“As the country emerges from the coronavirus crisis and construction activity resumes, job protection and job creation must form part of the economic recovery and the new funding for traineeships and apprenticeships will ensure that the UK construction sector can revamp its skills systems to support the government’s vision.
“Following the prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on the government’s transformative £5bn rebuilding programme for schools and hospitals across England, the chancellor has delivered a further stimulus to the economy where the construction sector will play a pivotal role.”
‘A good first step’
Steve Radley, CITB strategy and policy director, said: “Today’s measures are a good first step in supporting construction to invest in the skills to drive recovery, and to provide opportunities to young people.
“But a lot of work is needed between now and the autumn Budget to deliver what industry needs, given that apprenticeships were falling heavily before the crisis hit.
“Investment in the CLC’s Talent Retention Scheme, and bonuses for recruiting new apprentices, will help employers recruit and develop the existing workforce, as well as new talent.
“The Talent Retention scheme will match thousands of displaced workers with construction employers in need of their skills.
“And while the Green Homes Grant scheme will give smaller firms greater confidence in future work, we need to realise the opportunities to retrofit homes and public buildings in a more comprehensive and strategic way.”
‘Adapt to the challenges ahead’
David Thomson, head of external affairs at Association for Project Management (APM), commented: “We welcome the general intent behind the chancellor’s package for economic restart.
“It is clear that despite the scale of the measures announced, there will be a need to revise and develop further measures to adapt to the challenges ahead, both in the short term and long term.
“In the short term, investing in skills and employment opportunities will be paramount as we see strong evidence that an increasing individual demand for training and upskilling is crashing against a dramatic fall in organisational investment in training.
“Support and investment in project apprenticeships – which offer great employability skills – is a very practical way to invest in people.
“It is important that the recovery has ‘locked in’ long term solutions that will decarbonise the economy, invest in infrastructure (both physical and digital) to support the development of economic trends which were underway before Covid-19, and invests in skills associated with project management.”
‘Absolutely on the money’
Dave Sheridan, executive chairman at ilke Homes, said: “While the chancellor’s measures to retrofit 650,000 homes are absolutely on the money, building new eco-homes must remain the priority. If we are to recover swiftly from this downturn then modern methods of construction must be at the forefront of our plans.
“Factory-built homes are delivered faster, greener and are of a higher quality than traditional builds, and in the long-run, will save billions. For a green recovery, we need green, modular homes.”
Actis UK and Ireland sales director, Mark Cooper, added: “This is excellent news. We are forever quoting the mantra ‘fabric first’. These vouchers will help homeowners ensure that the fabric of which their homes are made is improved to help prevent heat pouring out through uninsulated walls and roofs.
“With 87% of UK housing stock being built before 1990 many millions of homes are not thermally sound.
“This ambitious project will enable them to reduce carbon emissions considerably – saving each homeowner hundreds of pounds a year.
“A typical pre-1990s detached house uses three times as much primary energy as a newly built Part L compliant equivalent and produces five times the volume of carbon emissions. So if the government is offering to pay for the bulk of the work to redress this imbalance, now is the time to take advantage,”