The National Federation of Builders (NFB) welcomed the chancellor’s continued recognition of construction and housebuilding in the 2014 Budget statement. The £500 million Builders Finance Fund aimed at unblocking finance for small developers should help support existing government measures to boost small business finance such as the British Business Bank and help small builders to build.
The extension of Help to Buy, new measures to support self-build and the announcement that Ebbsfleet is set to be the first modern garden city are positive signs that government is supporting the construction industry and therefore the wider economy. However, the chancellor shied away from taking bolder steps to get Britain building such as including major housing projects under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) planning regime.
Continued positive economic growth, as highlighted in the OBR forecasts, should help unlock further private investment and ensure a sustainable recovery in the construction industry but further planning reform and measures to boost retrofit were missed opportunities. The NFB hopes that all political parties will recognise the value of construction to the economy as they prepare their 2015 manifestos as it is a sector that generates £2.84 for every £1 invested.
Julia Evans, chief executive of the NFB said:
“The NFB welcomes recognition of the contribution of smaller builders with the creation of the £500 million Builders Finance Fund. The Help to Buy: equity loan scheme’s adoption has stimulated the market in the lower priced regions of the Midlands, north east and north west and we anticipate the new fund will do the same, while unlocking stalled sites and making access to finance simpler. We look forward to receiving more details on how further changes to the planning system will support the construction of the 200,000 homes Osborne mentioned in his statement.”
“However, it was disappointing not to hear any announcements on boosting retrofit measures, which would have helped people to improve their homes and bring down energy bills. The chancellor should not only fix the roof while sun is shining but should have made sure it is insulated by providing additional support through a VAT cut on retrofit measures from 20 per cent to 5 per cent.”