Waste of space?

He who walks with the lame learns how to limp.

Well at least it was short.

That’s one thing you can say about our Darling Chancellor’s latest effort to get us out of the do-do.

It’s one of the few good things from a building point of view. Yes, we’ve got some money coming to kickstart housebuilding. Yes we’ve got some money to boost energy efficiency in new houses. Yes, there’s some help towards companies for whom credit insurance has been taken away (but only since April 1). Yes, the stamp duty ‘holiday’ up to £175,000 has been extended until the end of this year, and yes there’s.. Nope, sorry. That’s it.

Where was the cut in VAT to 5% for housing building and maintenance work? The recognition that rates on empty properties (including mothballed factories) are not helping anyone? The organised, planned implementation of building and construction projects?

Oh, how silly of me. Of course we couldn’t expect to get anything that might actually work for an industry that accounts for some 8% of GDP when the car industry is in the doldrums. So hooray for the fact that anyone wanting to save £2,000 on a new car just has to go out and pick up an old banger and hang onto it for 12 months and bingo. Despite the fact that anyone with an ounce of negotiating skill should be able to get a far better discount off a new price all by themselves. And hooray for the fact that the whole country’s going to get broadband.

And to go back to the money that has been allocated for more energy efficient social housing. We’ve heard quite a lot in the last year about the actual cost of building a house to meet Code levels 4, 5 and 6. £100m, shared between all the UK authorities isn’t going to go very far at all.

I suppose we should be grateful we’ve got the £500m for housebuilding, which in anyone’s book is a sizeable amount. Just not really enough. Nothing like enough.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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