Ahead of Rishi Sunak’s first budget as chancellor this week, Professional Builder spoke to Mike Hobday, head of policy & external affairs at CITB to find out what might be in store for the construction industry.
What measures would CITB like to see introduced in the budget and how would they impact the construction industry?
Naturally, the government’s priority is on responding to the coronavirus outbreak and some decisions, for example on the new National Infrastructure Strategy, have been postponed. Nonetheless, the government’s ambitions across home-building, infrastructure and retrofit for net-zero offer huge opportunities to the building trades and we hope to see some detail about its plans and how it will support industry to recruit the workforce it needs. CITB’s annual forecast of Britain’s construction workforce needs shows that 168,500 jobs will be required over 2019-23. We’ve been talking to the government about how its migration, further education and apprenticeship levy policies can help the industry recruit.
Do you think this budget will have much to offer self-employed tradespeople and those running small businesses?
Hopefully the Budget will address cash flow problems smaller companies might already be experiencing as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
There are over one million SMEs in the construction industry and they perform an essential role in building Britain. Without wishing to second guess Government, it is to be hoped that SMEs are given the support they need to invest, grow, be more productive and train new staff. CITB is committed to helping SMEs, which is why we’ve boosted grant rates for building apprenticeships by 30-40 per cent and are growing our Skills and Training Fund which provides funding of £5,000-£10,000 to the smallest employers.
Are you expecting to see and would you welcome any incentives to encourage the growth of green technologies/building methods?
Buildings account for 39 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions, so we’re a critical part of society’s drive to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. To achieve this, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recommended the substantial deployment of low carbon heating (especially heat pumps), high quality wall insulation and more efficient water systems as well as a move to offsite construction. These measures will also require a programme whereby existing homes are retrofitted at scale while minimising disruption to residents. We’re hoping that the Government will announce more of its plans to achieve this in the budget or the autumn spending review, and CITB is working to ensure that the industry’s training system helps deliver the skills that we need.