Picking the bones from The Budget

Construction News’ Features Editor Katie Barker offers an expert opinion on Chancellor George Osborne’s March Budget statement

24 April 2013

Construction News’ Features Editor Katie Barker offers an expert opinion on Chancellor George Osborne’s March Budget statement.

“The Budget seemed, as often is the case, to be a mixture of big announcements thin on detail and missed opportunities, particularly for small businesses in the construction industry.

Although the Chancellor did make several announcements that will come as good news to SMEs across the country, it lacked the investment, incentives and detail needed to really make a difference.

The major announcements around housing and infrastructure are positive for the industry;  £3bn extra each year for infrastructure projects, a new Help to Buy scheme aiming to use shared equity to help people buy property, and the expansion of the Build to Rent scheme.

But the fact the infrastructure spending does not begin until 2015 lessens the impact of that announcement for smaller firms. While the housing announcements are undoubtedly positive, they will only have a noticeable impact on those within the housing market and it will take time for this work to filter down to smaller businesses.

One of the headline-grabbing announcements was the new employment allowance, available from April 2014, which will take the first £2,000 off the employer National Insurance bill of every company. But while no business will sniff at extra money, the sum is a drop in the ocean for all but the smallest of businesses.

The Chancellor also announced that the Government is cancelling the rise in fuel duty planned for September, which again is welcomed by most as at least it prevents costs increasing.

Sustainability and green building was one area many were hoping to see more announcements on in this Budget, but even the Green Deal, the Government’s flagship low-carbon policy, didn’t get so much as a mention by the chancellor.

There is often a sense of an opportunity missed after big announcements and there was certainly a sense of disappointment after this year’s Budget that the Chancellor had missed his last chance to stimulate the construction industry during this parliament.”


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