‘Lack of long-term focus’: industry reacts to the spring Budget

Spring Budget
Chancellor of the exchequer, Jeremy Hunt unveiled his spring Budget (Image: Gints Ivuskans via

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced his spring Budget yesterday (6 March).

Although he said that he’s got a plan for “sustainable, long-term growth”, some in construction believe it falls short in commitments to key areas, including the skills shortage, retrofitting and infrastructure investment.

Here’s a roundup of industry reactions:

Apprenticeships missing from the picture

Eddie Tuttle, director of policy, external affairs and research at the Chartered Institute of Building, said: “The chancellor’s Budget speech lacked long-term focus on issues like housing supply and CIOB is hoping the next Budget, regardless of who is in power, will seize the opportunity to drastically improve the skills landscape for the construction sector – which is crucial for the success of levelling up and reaching our national housing targets.  

“We’re pleased the government is extending access to finance for small and medium-sized businesses – which make up much of the construction industry – through the Recovery Loan Scheme.   

“It also is pleasing there is an intention to build more homes. However, the government must give serious consideration to one of our key focuses – ensuring all homes built are of the highest quality and are future-proofed to reduce the need for retrofitting down the line.  

“The government also needs to urgently review its unfit-for-purpose apprenticeship system, which regrettably was not mentioned in the Budget.    

“A wholesale review of both the system and its funding is needed to make sure training is affordable and incentivised for construction businesses to deliver the number of qualified professionals needed by both the sector and wider economy.”  

‘Little for the built environment’

Peter Hogg, UK cities director at Arcadis, said: “Listening to the speech, there was little for the built environment sector. The North Eastern Trailblazer devolution deal is welcome, as is more money for levelling up in culture projects and an extension to the Towns Fund. A £242m commitment to Docklands 2.0 is also a symbolic recognition that London is in the levelling-up mix too. Measures to encourage life sciences investment is welcome.

“Overall, this wasn’t a Budget for large and soaring commitments on things such as decarbonisation and energy transition, the housing crisis or acceleration in investment in infrastructure. This was a Budget where the value is in the detail and the set-piece was all about the politics rather than the sweeping delivery of growth.”

‘Lost sight of the bigger picture’

Royal Institute of British Architects president, Muyiwa Oki, said: “With a general election on the horizon, it’s no surprise that announcements aim to boost household budgets. But the government has lost sight of the bigger picture and missed a key moment to improve our buildings – especially our homes.   

“Millions of substandard, ageing homes are leaking energy and money. The government must bring forward a National Retrofit Strategy – a well-funded programme to boost the green economy, cut emissions and lower people’s energy bills.   

“Today’s investment in new housing is welcome, but it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed […] A simplified, well-resourced planning system will not only address housing challenges, but boost sustainable development, grow the economy, and make people healthier and happier. It’s essential and long overdue.”

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