As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the UK economy, all industries await the chancellor’s spring budget announcement on 3 March. Here, professionals in construction and engineering outline their wishes and predictions
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to deliver the 2021 Spring Budget on 3 March 2021.
He said it will “deliver the next phase of our plan to support our recovery from coronavirus and protect jobs”.
But, what could the budget mean for housebuilding, skills, climate change and the construction industry as a whole?
Spring budget predictions and wishes
‘Introduce energy efficiency incentives for developers’
Andrew Shepherd, managing director at modular housebuilder TopHat, says: “Rishi Sunak should use the upcoming Budget to introduce policies that incentivise developers to improve the energy performance of new homes. This can come in the form of lower Stamp Duty for properties with higher EPC ratings, for example. This would echo the tax incentives available to the motor industry and electric cars.
“In addition, I urge the government to double down on its net-zero commitments. If ministers are now refusing to fund retrofitting homes with low-carbon technologies to reduce emissions produced by the UK’s housing stock, as they have done with the failure to properly resource the Green Homes Grant, then they must encourage the uptake of offsite manufacturing.
“By manufacturing homes offsite, manufacturers, such as ourselves, can cut emissions from construction programmes typically by half and deliver net-zero homes as standard.”
‘Increase further education funding’
Dave Sheridan, executive chairman at Government-backed modular housebuilder ilke Homes, said: “The UK economy’s transition to net-zero is going to be largely dependent on the availability of green skills.
“Therefore, the chancellor must use the upcoming Budget as an opportunity to increase funding for further education and expand apprenticeship opportunities, as the construction industry, currently one of the UKs biggest emitters of carbon, is lacking the required skills base to transition and innovate at a pace required to hit the government’s 2050 target.”
‘Invest more in passive design’
Steve McSorley, director of civil and structural engineering consultancy Perega, said: “With the Future Homes Standard Consultation, and changes to Part F and Part L, coming into effect at the end of the year, we’d like to see more investment put forward for passive design solutions.
“Whilst this will be important for decarbonising new build housing, it will be even more crucial for the retrofitting of existing structures and the repurposing of currently derelict ones. This latter type of project presents a huge opportunity to rejuvenate our urban spaces, encouraging densification and protecting our green spaces.
“It would be encouraging to see the chancellor set some money aside to fund a programme to transform many of the UK’s formerly carbon intensive industrial districts into world-leading example of green living spaces.”
‘Must tap into undiscovered talent’
Adrian Attwood, director of conservation construction contractor DBR Ltd, said: “Whilst we weathered the economic turbulence of 2020, the greater challenge is yet to come and, alongside other parts of UK business and industry, the construction industry needs to put itself in as strong a position as possible to weather it. In part, this relies on tapping into a rich seam of undiscovered talent which exists on our doorstep.”
‘Allocate more funding to a richer and broader construction mix’
Chris Stanley, housing manager at brick, block and mortar association Modern Masonry, commented: “The housing crisis needs urgent attention. Dragging on for decades, this government has an opportunity to tackle a problem which has puzzled governments and blighted society for so long.
“Previous administrations have been at risk of placing style above substance, allocating funding to building methods which, whilst innovative, are either inappropriate to deal with the current problems or at a developmental stage.
“We need the chancellor to allocate more funding to a richer and broader construction mix, new fads are all very well but it’s important not to lose sight of time-honoured, traditional methods which deliver long term value and quality.”
‘Relax regulations to ease cash flow issues’
Ben Hancock, managing director of building materials supplier Oscar Acoustics, said: “Cash flow is an important issue for any business be it large or small but given the challenges of the past year, the reverse VAT changes will no doubt bring additional pressure to smaller businesses who have less money in the bank.
“We’d like to see these regulations relaxed in this year’s budget so that businesses can focus on what matters most, generating income without the stress of cash flow issues to contend with.”
What would you like to see include in the Spring Budget? Add your comments below!