The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has commented today on the UK Budget 2017, delivered by Philip Hammond, saying that it is a ‘budget for builders’.
Following plans to set a target of building 300,000 new homes every year by the mid-2020s, industry experts doubtfully acknowledged the government’s pledge, due to underfunding, lack of support for the industry, and most critically, the skills shortage faced throughout the country. However, this budget’s announcements have strengthened opinions about achievability, due to the additional financial support expected for small and medium-sized enterprises – hence why a budget for builders.
The Chief Exec. Of the FMB, Mr Brian Berry, said ‘The Chancellor appears to be putting his money where his mouth is with the announcement of £44 billion of capital funding, loans and guarantees. In particular, a further £1.5 billion for the Home Building Fund to be targeted specifically at SME housebuilders can play a significant role in channelling crucial funding to this sector.’
The commitment of the 2017 budget to training within the construction industry is a promising announcement, one which is warmly welcomed by the FMB, as Mr Berry continued, ‘With Brexit around the corner the next few years will bring unprecedented challenges to the construction sector. The Government will need to make sure that the sector continues to have access to skilled EU workers, but we are pleased that the Chancellor has today listened to the needs of SME builders.’
Also wading in with support for this commitment is Steve Radley, Director of Policy at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), who said ‘The right skills will be critical to deliver this change, so the £34m funding for construction training is a vital investment. The focus on digital skills is essential to developing a workforce which exploits the benefits of the digital revolution, aiding modern methods of production and boosting productivity.’
He remains sceptical about the skills crisis, however, and added, ‘there is no quick fix to the skills shortage and construction skills must be of a high standard. We look forward to working closely with employers and Government to ensure these promising new measures deliver for our industry.’