The Construction Leadership Council has cautiously welcomed support provided by the Government as part of yesterday’s Spring Budget statement, focusing on key asks of industry.
Ahead of the Spring Budget the CLC called for the Government to act in four areas:
- Stability to combat inflation
- Stimulating growth & productivity
- Supporting long-term career pathways/progression for people working in construction
- Retrofit to mitigate cost of living
Below we outline the relevant policy proposals that emerged as part of the Spring Budget
Stability to combat inflation
The CLC wanted more clarity and certainty about future investment to support investment to increase productivity and help control rising costs. In response to this priority the Spring Budget has given greater clarity on the future pipeline through:
- the formation of Great British Nuclear (GBN) – providing greater certainty about future investment in nuclear infrastructure, including new Small Modular Reactors;
- £20 billion committed to support implementation of industrial scale Carbon Capture and Storage;
- Backing for local investment through Investment Zones, City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements, Levelling Up Partnerships; and devolution deals.
However the CLC noted its concerns about the continuing delays in the publication of the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline, which in previous years has provided visibility of future investment.
Stimulating growth & productivity
The CLC promoted the opportunities to stimulate growth by providing incentives for green investment through an extension of the existing ‘superallowance’ system to cover low carbon plant, particularly that bought by hire companies who currently fall outside the system.
The Spring Budget saw the Chancellor deliver:
- An ambitious ‘full expensing’ system that would allow businesses a 100 per cent first year allowance for investment in plant and machinery.
- A reform to R&D tax credits to extend support to some small and medium-sized businesses
The CLC will work with the Government to raise awareness of these opportunities with the sector, and provide briefing and support to hire companies around the opportunity to make their case to be included within the capital allowances framework.
Supporting long term careers
Availability of people remains one of the consistent challenges for UK construction companies across the sector. The CLC asked for greater flexibility in the use of skills levies to support recruitment. It also contributed to pre-Budget consultation of expanding the current shortage occupation list published by the Migration Advisory Committee to include currently excluded construction trades.
The Spring Budget confirmed that key construction roles have now been added to the Shortage Occupation List, to support global recruitment where severe skills challenges exist.
We also welcome the Government’s continuing support for the expansion of flexible working, a key priority for our sector to improve the attractiveness of roles.
But it is disappointing that the Budget was largely silent on options to improve the flexibility in the way that the money that industry has already paid to the Exchequer can be used to close industry skills gaps.
Retrofit to mitigate cost of living
As costs rise for families around the UK, the CLC had advocated for help households to understand how to make their homes more energy efficient. However, while there was significant wider support for energy costs in the Spring Budget, our proposals to deliver an education campaign targeting energy efficiency measures for households was not taken forward. We will continue to work with the Government on this important issue.