UK Construction Week Event Director, Nathan Garnett, discusses the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, highlighting the key points and opportunities for the UK construction sector.
While the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement delivered a gloomy fiscal forecast, it also presented a wealth of opportunity for the UK construction industry. The Budget put housebuilding on front and centre stage, with the FMB going as far as to dub it a ‘budget for builders’. £44bn has been allocated to housebuilding, with £15.3bn of new financial support earmarked for adding 300,000 new homes to the nation’s housing stock annually over the next five years.
Boost for builders
The last time the UK built more than 250,000 homes a year SME builders accounted for three-fifths of all new homes – that number now stands at less than a fifth.
It is then hugely encouraging to see small and medium-sized builders have been placed at the heart of these plans to tackle the housing crisis, with new money in the shape of the £1.5bn Home Builders Fund designed to get our SME housebuilders building again.
A further £1.7bn has been allocated to the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine, with major infrastructure projects set to be the main beneficiaries. There were calls for these measures at UK Construction Week last month, in the belief that sustained economic growth can only be achieved through national investment. At next year’s event we will be looking at how planning reform, increasing productivity and offsite construction will all play their part in not only solving the housing supply issue, but giving us the infrastructure to compete globally post Brexit.
The future is offsite
A series of recommendations in Mark Farmer’s frank and thorough review of the UK construction industry – ‘Modernise or Die’ – detailed how off-site manufacturing held the key to future success, and we’re therefore delighted to see the Chancellor has taken note. The government will use its purchasing power to drive the adoption of modern methods of construction and has committed to favouring offsite construction as a preferred method of delivery across its capital programmes by 2019.
Green belt restrictions remain in place much to the disappointment of its fiercest critics, but a planning review is in the works, most notably a review into land banking and the potential use of compulsory purchase orders so developers can no longer maximise profits on undeveloped land and key sites are freed up.
The construction industry has lacked confidence in recent years, but if this Budget has demonstrated anything, it is the government’s irrefutable faith in our industry. With continue government support, regional investment and the right infrastructure; there’s no reason why we can’t work towards building and stronger and better Britain.