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2017 Budget: At a glance
Published:  23 November, 2017

The Autumn Budget was delivered to the House of Commons on 22 November, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, described the economy as: “continuing to grow, create jobs and confound expectations”.

For the construction industry, the key announcement was a pledge of £44 billion worth of funding to support the UK’s housing market.

Other measures announced in the budget included lifting the borrowing cap on local authorities with high housing demand; abolishing stamp duty for first-time buyers on properties worth up to £300,000; and pledging to build 300,000 new homes by the mid-2020s.

The Chancellor also announced that The budget has also shown that £10 billion will be allocated to the Help to Buy scheme, while £8 billion will be used to provide new financial guarantees to support private housebuilding and the purpose-built private rented sector.

In the budget, the Chancellor reported that the Office of Budget and Responsibility had cut the gross domestic product forecasts from 2% this year, 1.4% in 2018, and 1.3% in 2019 and 2020, before rising to 1.5% in 2021.

During his speech, he committed to “make good on his promises” regarding housing, and highlighting now the government’s aim is to make Britain “fit for the future.” Investment into these promises have seen new infrastructure and transport links, as well as an investment of £34 million in construction skills and training.

Although the focus for the construction industry is the commitment to new houses and investment into infrastructure, there were a variety of other issues raised in the budget, which include:

  • The national living wage will rise in April 2018 by 4.4%, from £7.50 an hour to £7.83
  • Three million apprenticeship starts expected by 2020
  • Twenty million pound to be invested to colleges for T-levels
  • Tax on diesel cars (that do not meet the latest standards) will rise in April 2018, but will have no effect on vans and commercial vehicles
  • The VAT threshold for small business will remain at £85,000 for the next two years.

BMN received a number of comments from the industry:

Richard Beresford, Chief Cxecutive of the National Federation of Builders, believes that the budget shows that the government has listened to the construction industry when it comes to solving the housing crisis. He said: “Although there is much more to do, we look forward to work alongside the government in enabling construction SMEs to solve Britain’s housing crisis.”

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the Builders Merchants Federation said: “This needs to be an unflinching, unrelenting determination by government at all levels to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply. We also want to see the government press ahead with its proposals contained in the Housing White Paper, as this will bring a welcome boost to housebuilders and to the manufacturers and merchants in the building materials supply chain.”

Darren Bowkett, Operations Director at Ibstock Brick and Managing Director of Ibstock Kevington, agrees and believes the Government has demonstrated its firm commitment to keep Britain building with plans for over 300,000 new homes.

“At a national level this is precisely the news we were hoping for,” he said. “This announcement, when coupled with the Help to Buy scheme for first time buyers, provides exactly the kind of financial support we need to catalyse economic growth in the UK and to bolster the continued health and growth of the construction sector.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “The Chancellor has put small-and-medium-sized builders at the heart of ambitious plans to tackle the growing housing crisis. The Chancellor appears to be putting his money where his mouth is with the announcement of £44 billion of capital funding, loans and guarantees.”

Photo credit: Chris Bain / Shutterstock.com