Government must use budget to invest in sustainable growth

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak

Construction is bouncing back from historically sluggish activity levels during the coronavirus lockdown, but this relative optimism must be converted into long-term growth and jobs, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

This is in response to the recent UK construction PMI data, which shows output rising for the second month in a row, largely driven by house building. Despite this catch up, however, job losses have begun, with 34% of respondents reporting a fall in employment over the period.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The government must build on recent support for construction by bringing forward longer-term investment that will avoid the industry falling off a cliff edge when emergency measures to support the economy come to an end early next year.

“With Help to Buy, Stamp Duty holidays and the Green Homes Grants all being wound down by the second quarter of next year, it’s essential to avoid a boom and bust cycle that further risks job losses and more precarity.”

Brian continued: “Ahead of the government’s budget and Spending Review, the FMB is calling for greater investment in energy efficiency measures and a more ambitious strategy to upgrade the nation’s homes. This will lead to more activity and jobs in local building firms, a reduction in carbon emissions, and warmer, healthier homes. The upcoming reforms to the planning system should also be underpinned by investment in local authority departments so that they can acquire the skills they need to manage this new process and support communities.

“Greater investment is needed for construction skills and training to help convert any new entrants on short-term programmes into long-term assets to the industry. Construction is rich with entrepreneurial spirit, and by giving today’s apprentices high-quality training and experiences, they’ll be the business owners of tomorrow. All these interventions are crucial to ensuring our industry succeeds in the long-term.”