24th November Journal Column

 

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Earlier this week, chancellor Philip Hammond made his first Autumn budget since abolishing the Spring statement and within it was plenty of positive news for the industry.

House-building and the industry was front and centre of the statement, with many announcements setting out new funding for housebuilding, training and transport, amongst other things. One of the biggest announcements was the £15.3bn new financial support for house building over the next five years, this would take the total to at least £44 billion. By the mid-2020s, the aim is to have 300,000 homes being built every year, the highest level of house-building since the 1970s.

What I do like to see, is exactly where the money is going, and the budget did not disappoint. The money will be split between; new money for the Home Builders Fund to get SMEs building again, £2.7bn will double the Housing Infrastructure Fund, £630m small sites fund to unstick the delivery of 40,000 homes, among other things. That sounds like a lot of hard work over the next few years, but luckily Hammond has appointed money to training the workforce to build these new homes. An additional £34m will go towards developing skills in bricklaying and plastering across the country.

With the industry going ‘digital’, we’ve got new technology, apps and robots that can do the job for us, with this in mind, Hammond has assigned a further £30m towards digital courses using artificial intelligence. The funding is provided in advance of launching a National Retraining Scheme that will help people get new skills. It will be overseen by the government, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) who will all decide on other areas where new skills and training courses are needed.

The builders might be at the forefront of the announcement, but the buyers haven’t been forgotten, first-time buyers no longer have to pay stamp duty land tax (SDLT) on homes under £300,000. This will save £1,660‎ on the average first-time buyer property, with 80% of first-time buyers paying no stamp duty. This will hopefully get more young people on the property ladder, which is what we’re going to need to fill the new houses we’re building.

And the good news doesn’t stop there, the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage will increase from April 2018, with over 2 million people expected to benefit. This news can only help get more people into work and here’s hoping they choose our industry, by the looks of things, we’re in for an eventful but productive couple of years.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk