Ahead of the Autumn Statement, the Chief Executive of the FMB, Brian Berry, wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt. The budget is proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and has now made its way to Number 10 for final approvals and changes.
In Brian's letter, he highlights five key priority areas for our industry and requests that the Government puts the money needed in place to address these.
The scale of the current housing crisis is growing, with Housing output for this year anticipated to be far below the Government 300,000 new homes per year ambition.
The FMB have therefore requested an increase in funding for local authority planning departments, focusing on providing support to micro and SME house builders who are most affected by delays in the planning system, due to the challenges presented by loss of income to firms reliant on consistent cashflow.
The FMB is calling on the Government to introduce a long-term plan to implement a national retrofit strategy, to upgrade the UK’s homes. By putting in place the funding to support a 20-year programme, small business will have the confidence to invest in the retrofit market and upskill their workforce.
In particular, there is a call for the Chancellor to implement a series of financial incentives, including a reduction in VAT and Stamp Duty to, kickstart the market.
The construction industry is currently experiencing a serious skills shortage. The UK needs a comprehensive skills strategy, setting out the approach the Government will take to increase the number of people developing the necessary skills gaps, and the support which will be made available to those looking to take training courses.
The FMB is calling for more funding to be made available for skills academies, to help boost the construction workforce, and enable the industry to provide the manpower the country needs to deliver on its housing and infrastructure needs.
Reform VAT reductions
Reform is needed of the current VAT reduction measures on energy efficiency product installation. We know cutting VAT on the labour element of repair, maintenance and improvement works will have a significant positive impact on both job creation, and the wider economy.
The FMB is concerned that the complexity of the current system has led to poor understanding and take up by the industry, and therefore feels that broadening it out to all repair, maintenance and improvement work enable more eligible firms to receive support, and would boost the sector as a whole.
Regulating the Industry
The FMB supports the licensing of building companies to ensure they have met minimum requirements. The building industry remains unregulated, and a lack of minimum competence requirements with limited consumer protections is massively damaging.
The FMB has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to support the implementation of a licensing system, which would save consumers money and increase income to the Treasury, which is currently being lost to informal work.
The Construction industry is experiencing a challenging period, and the Autumn Statement presents an excellent opportunity for Jeremy Hunt to show his backing for Micro and SME builders. The FMB will continue to fight for the interests of our members.
Brian’s Berry’s letter can be downloaded in full below.