By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East
So with less than a month to go now until the General Election, the political parties have started gearing up their campaigns this week with the release of their party manifestos.
As expected, delivering greater investment in housing and infrastructure are two of the main priorities for all parties. But which party is offering us the best deal? I guess that depends on which side of the fence you’re sitting on…
The Conservatives are leading the way on the housing front, pledging to build 200,000 new starter homes by 2020 (Labour have pledged this too), but with the added bonus of a 20 per cent discount for first-time buyers under 40. The party are also offering first-time buyers a new Help to Buy ISA to help those saving a deposit boost the amount they’ve put away, which is something I can imagine will go down well with a lot of young voters. But when it comes to what will benefit our industry most, the Liberal Democrats seem to most favourable, with the party vowing they will look to build 300,000 new homes a year by 2020- that’s 100,000 homes a year more than the other two parties which, at face value, would be quite a difference in work-levels for our industry.
When it comes to people buying the homes we build, Labour have made a pledge to prioritise local buyers in the buying queue. No details have been released as yet as to how this would work, but I feel it’s quite a bold move for the party and one I’d be interested in hearing more from (on both a personal and professional level).
On the transport front, the Conservatives are sticking with their plans to finish HS2 and have pledged to start looking at HS3, whilst Labour have said that although they would continue to support HS2, they would look to reduce costs as much as possible (one of the Construction 2025 targets for our industry). However, the good news for our region is that both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties are proposing to continue their support for ‘One North’ meaning our region would benefit from co-ordinated road and rail improvements, including £65billion of rail improvements from 2020 onwards, if either party was chosen as an outright or coalition Government of course!
There’s also good news for those looking to come into our industry, with all parties pledging to put more time and funding into apprenticeships and training for young people- something the leaders know will go down well with all voters.
Only time will tell exactly what pledges will be turned into practice, but it will be an interesting few weeks all around that’s for sure…