Chancellor Philip Hammond recently delivered the 2018 Budget, saying that the country’s “era of austerity” was ending. The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) reacted to the announcements that impacted the construction industry in particular and the economy in general.
The CIOB approved of the Chancellor’s commitment to more investment in the built environment. The £420m allocated to minor works such as potholes can begin rapidly and provide short-term improvements. Combined with a revitalised Northern Powerhouse Strategy, a commitment to more spending in the regions, and the promise of funds for high street improvements, these developments have the ability to increase employment in the construction industry.
Regional investment that adds value throughout the UK was also welcomed. Bridging the productivity and investment gap between London and the rest of Britain was needed, so the investment in the Budget was encouraging, but the CIOB warned that this funding needed to be connected to training and job creation.
The Letwin Review commented that reducing the SME apprenticeship fees to 5% (down from 10%) will be welcomed by the construction industry. The Government plan to allow customers paying levies to apply up to 25% for apprenticeship training also met with approval. In an industry dominated by subcontracting, it is important to make skills development available to those in the forefront of delivering UK infrastructure support.
While the recent announcements are unlikely to affect existing skills shortages, they do indicate a commitment to present students over 18 with an accessible choice between academic, vocational, and technical routes.