Spring Budget 2023: Construction needs to play a central role to deliver UK growth
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has delivered his first Budget in the House of Commons and announced the government’s spending plans for the coming year.
“Listening to the Chancellor this afternoon, you would be forgiven for thinking that the government has lost its appreciation for the role the construction industry plays as an engine for the economy. "
In a Budget dedicated to growth, and with talk of industrial strategy, we might have expected the construction sector to be more front and centre.
“It is well known that the labour supply shortage is currently a major blocker to growth. There is some comfort in the easing of visa restrictions for construction workers, although the Chancellor omitted to mention these points, despite a long focus on getting people back into the workforce. We can perhaps see the centre of gravity moving away from construction under this government.”
“It is nonetheless positive to see clear pockets of targeted, strategic decision-making, such as with devolution. Putting regeneration, infrastructure and housing powers in the hands of regional mayors will enable decisions to be made by those closest to the challenges that local economies face.”
Today’s statement also recognises the UK’s relative strength and potential in innovation and green investment.
"The Chancellor was mindful of competition from across the Atlantic and has targeted sectors where the UK is in a strong position to lead the way, such as carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) and renewable energy."
"The support offered to the nuclear sector through funding, the SMR competition, and the launch of coordinating body Great British Nuclear can set a precedent for how the industry and government can work hand in hand to finance and deliver major and innovative new projects.”
“Beyond the important focus on our domestic challenges, there was also a shift in approach to defence and the UK’s role on the world stage."
Building on the Integrated Review Refresh, national security is shifting up the priority list. With expertise in setting up programmes for success, our industry is strongly placed to support that growth.
“Until recently, major infrastructure spending was at the top of the agenda for fuelling national and regional prosperity. While we can credit the Chancellor for his considered and targeted decision-making in straightened times, he cannot afford to forget the central role that construction will need to play in delivering the growth he is seeking.”