Ann Bentley, Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) Global Board Director and Construction Leadership Council (CLC) Member, gives her comments on the 2017 Autumn Budget announcement and what it means for the construction industry.
“I think construction fared better than many expected – crucially the importance of our industry as an enabler to the wider economy was recognised and we got a construction sector deal. But there was also very positive action on some quite different levels from housing to training. It’s not often our industry gets selected for attention in such a high profile way.
“The chancellor has made a real attempt to address both supply and demand in housing through the £44bn commitment to building homes, the announcement earlier this week to remove Housing Association debt from the public sector accounts – thus freeing up their ability to borrow – and by abolishing stamp duty for first time buyers.
“Actively addressing the skills gap will also provide a boost to construction, with the construction skills funding pledge plus the commitment to boost maths and computer science in schools. Innovation features large in the budget and the additional R&D tax credits will be also be welcome to construction sector companies. All of that is much needed and will give a great kick-start to boost productivity in our sector.
“On a broader level the low growth forecasts – as far as the eye can see – and rising interest rates will have a negative impact on investment confidence, which is much less good news for construction.”