What does Hammond's first Autumn Budget mean for the built environment?
As the Chancellor Philip Hammond delivers his 2017 Autumn Budget, Chartered Institute of Building Eddie Tuttle, Associate Director for Policy, Research and Public Affairs at the CIOB provides its reaction to today’s headline commitments and announcements affecting the built environment.
With productivity growth, business investment and GDP growth all downgraded, a clear solution is to look to construction as an enabler that can allow all of these to improve. We need to be looking to the wider benefits of good public sector investment that go far beyond just economic value, including investment that can provide social, environmental and other hidden value.
The various packages of funding to support the building of more homes – and importantly higher quality homes – is welcome. But it’s not clear how the £44 billion of capital funding, loans and guarantees to support the housing market will be spent. Underwriting borrowing and giving housebuilders guarantees is no substitute for delivering high quality, affordable homes of all tenures.
We are pleased that the Chancellor has listened to the industry on skills provision: research has shown that labour supply has been the biggest source of capacity constraint for the construction industry over the past 15 years. Boosting the quality and quantity of the construction labour force is critical to deliver the homes and infrastructure that the country needs, so the £34m construction skills fund is a welcome policy. However, this will need to be bolstered in the future and further supported by the private sector given that a fifth of the construction workforce is due to retire in the next decade.
Finally, the CIOB is delighted to see that £170 million has been provided over the next three years for innovation to transform productivity in the construction sector. Alongside the announcement that the government will use its purchasing power to drive adoption of modern methods of construction, such as offsite manufacturing, we are pleased that the need to improve construction productivity is being widely recognised and starting to be addressed.