Autumn Budget 2017: Industry Reactions

Autumn Budget 2017: Industry Reactions

Today the chancellor outlined the key areas of spending the Government will focus on for the next year and onwards. Key focus points included abolishing stamp duty on houses below £300,000 for first-time buyers, £44 billion in support for housing and a new target of 300,00 homes to be built each year. Here, we round up the voices from across the industry having their say.

‘Business-friendly Budget in challenging times’

Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses

“Overall, this is a business-friendly Budget. The Chancellor’s vision for an inclusive economy includes a set of measures that will boost confidence across the small business community as they face extremely challenging trading conditions.

“We welcome the careful approach to protect diesel van drivers while at the same time addressing air quality. We also welcome the fuel duty freeze, which is vital to so many local businesses for customers, suppliers and staff.”

‘Budget for builders’

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB

“The Government has set itself a new target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. And today 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.

“In particular, a further £1.5 billion for the Home Building Fund to be targeted specifically at SME housebuilders can play a significant role in channelling crucial funding to this sector. A £630 million fund to prepare small sites for development and proposals to require councils to deliver more new housing supply from faster-to-build smaller sites will provide opportunities to boost small scale development.”

‘Government has listened’

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB

“The budget shows that the Government has listened to the construction industry when it comes to solving the housing crisis. 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.”

‘Government must allow local authorities greater freedom to replenish housing stock’

Andrew Jepp, Managing Director, Zurich Municipal

“Philip Hammond had made clear his intention to use this Budget to try and fix Britain’s broken housing market. Local government will welcome measures to make it easier for first time buyers to get on the housing ladder.
However, central government must allow local authorities greater freedom to replenish social housing stock. We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that he will lift Housing Revenue Account borrowing caps for councils in areas of high affordability pressure, so they can build more council homes. We will continue to monitor the impact of this change on our customers.”


‘Focus needs to be on training routes that offer real progression’

Ed Shaw, industry manager for construction and utilities at City & Guilds

“It is welcome to see the Chancellor announce investment in the construction workforce. I look forward to learning more detail about this plan, and I hope all decisions will be taken in consultation with those in the sector who can speak from direct experience. With the construction T-Levels coming into place soon, the focus needs to be on providing modern, high-quality training routes that offer real progression.”

‘Sector deal should give our industry the confidence to transform its performance’

Steve Radley, Director of Policy at CITB

“The Government’s commitment to build 300,000 new homes each year and the £170m Sector Deal should give our industry the confidence and the firepower to make the investments needed to transform its performance. The right skills will be critical to deliver this change, so the £34m funding for construction training is a vital investment.

“The focus on digital skills is essential to developing a workforce which exploits the benefits of the digital revolution, aiding modern methods of production and boosting productivity. However, there is no quick fix to the skills shortage and construction skills must be of a high standard. We look forward to working closely with employers and Government to ensure these promising new measures deliver for our industry.”

‘This needs to be an unflinching determination to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply’

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF

The BMF is pleased that the Chancellor has acknowledged the profound need to deliver and build new homes. 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.”

‘Innovation and productivity key ways to preserve UK’s global competitiveness’

Patrick Brown, Head of Insights and EU Engagement, British Property Federation

“An early announcement in the Budget, but one that is significant. A few weeks ago, the Chancellor dismissed suggestions of additional Brexit-proofing spending by Cabinet colleagues. However, today’s announcement suggests a rethink and some shoring up is underway. Pertinently, the way that money will be spent is to be determined via departmental allocations at a later date, but the Budget gave a heavy hint that innovation and productivity are seen as being key ways to enhance and preserve the UK’s global competitiveness.”

‘Pressure to build will mean skilled labourers can dictate financial terms’

Brendan Sharkey, head of construction, MHA MacIntyre Hudson

“Potentially developers will be attacked for “land banking” but if you don’t have the labour resources to build, that criticism seems unreasonable. Indeed, the pressure to build will mean skilled labourers can dictate financial terms. This has been prevalent for the last few years, but covered by growth in house prices.  There’s an obvious weakness without adequate skilled labour. It’s likely that house prices will continue to go up with insufficient numbers built – not because of land banking, inadequate infrastructure or lack of finances, but because there is insufficient skilled labour.”

‘Question remainds whether workforce will be sufficiently skilled to deliver’

Rob Oliver Chief Executive, Construction Equipment Association

“There was confirmation of a number of new initiatives, and extra resource for existing policies, to encourage house building to facilitate home ownership. CEA members are on hand to supply the extra construction plant needed to build more homes, but the question remains whether the on site workforce will be sufficiently numerous and skilled to deliver the projects needed.”

‘Any decrease in VAT threshold could place a significant tax burden on the smallest businesses’

Craig Harman, Tax Specialist at Perrys Chartered Accountants

“Small business owners will be pleased to note that speculation regarding a decrease in the VAT registration threshold did not come to fruition. It was anticipated the Chancellor would look to bring the UK in line with other EU countries, however this will be consulted on instead and may result in changes over the next couple of years. Any decrease in the threshold could place a significant tax and compliance burden on the smallest businesses.”


”Ownership at all costs’ won’t help productivity crisis’

Johnny Caddick, managing director of Moda Living

“This focus on ‘ownership at all costs’ highlights why we have a productivity crisis. People should not be bound to a place and while owning a home is good for some, everyone would agree that creating a more mobile workforce could help alleviate the drop off in productivity.”


‘Failing to acknowledge green belt potential is gross dereliction of duty’

Alan Brown, Chief Executive of CALA Group

“The five year commitment of £44bn to boost the supply of new housing is a headline grabbing figure, and a continued focus on the development of urban areas is clearly a positive, but failing to acknowledge that the green belt represents a viable source of potential new land on which to build the homes that Britain badly needs is gross dereliction of duty from this Conservative government. The term green belt conjures up visions of rolling hills and badgers sets but the reality is that there are huge swathes of the country classed as green belt which are basically brownfield land in all but name.”

‘Short term decisions which tinker at the edges’

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges

“I said last week that the Chancellor should take a long term and moral view of investment in young people and adults to address the skills challenges which he has so eloquently described in today’s Budget. Unfortunately, he has chosen to make short term decisions which tinker at the edges. The uncertainty around Brexit may explain this cautious approach and we would hope to see more long term consideration in the next spending review. Having said that, we have to welcome the new investment in the National Retraining Scheme and the extra £20 million for colleges to deliver T Levels.”

‘Announcement of SDLT relief will hopefully be a shot in the arm for property market’

David Knapp, Partner, and Head of Residential Property at law firm Hart Brown

“The announcement by Philip Hammond that there will be SDLT relief for first time buyers of residential properties costing no more than £500,000.00 will hopefully be a shot in the arm for the property market. Invariably there will be a surge towards the end of the “holiday” period of first time buyers rushing to benefit.

“On past experience this will lead to a spike in the numbers of transactions followed by a drop in activity. Interestingly past legislative changes of this type have seen buyers pay over the odds for properties and taking a view on structural and other defects just to secure the benefit only to find that the cost of the risk is greater than the benefit.”

‘Good to see speech acknowledge our VAT concerns’

Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman

“With costs rising and consumer demand flagging, small firms will welcome today’s business-friendly Autumn Budget. It was good to see the Chancellor’s speech acknowledge our concerns about the VAT threshold. Dragging thousands of more small firms into the hugely complex VAT regime would have caused a significant drag on output at an already challenging time for businesses.”

‘Time to face up to challenges and build enough homes for the people that live and work in the UK’

Tom Farmer of the BDA

“We are delighted at the focus on housebuilding in the budget. It is time for the country to face up to the economic and practical challenges and actually build enough homes for the people that live and work in the UK. I am delighted to be working in an industry that is keeping pace with this fast-moving sector and which is ready to gear up to meet increased demand.”

‘A small step in the right direction’

Stephanie Baxter, Education Lead at the IET

“As we are facing an engineering shortfall in the next decade, the financial boost for students studying the crucial engineering gateway subject of Maths at A-Level is welcome news.  This is a small step in the right direction and there remains huge demand for engineers. We ultimately need to look at the focus on Maths and Physics, as studying engineering is creative and should not be limited to only those who have taken these subjects.”

‘Stamp duty cut for first-time buyers misguided’

Jean-Marc Vandevivere, chief executive at start-up housing developer PLATFORM_

“A stamp duty cut for first time buyers is understandable politically and the reality is it’s unlikely to hit the Treasury’s coffers too hard. But the fact is, while maybe stimulating the lower end of the for sale market, it won’t encourage the building of new housing and will only really benefit those wealthy enough to be able to save for a deposit. Instead the Chancellor should have reversed the stamp duty surcharge for institutional investors. It would have made less headlines, but would have built more homes.”

‘Welcome news for both national and regional suppliers’

David Gray, Bid Development Director at AM Bid 

“Today’s spending increase for the Scottish Government (£2bn), Welsh Government (£1.2bn) and Northern Ireland Executive (£660m) will likely result in increased new contract opportunities in each of these regions. This will be welcome news for both national and regional suppliers operating in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who are looking to bid on Government projects.”

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