Addressing an audience at the House of Commons this week, Bill Bolsover, the chairman of the Construction Products Association (CPA), identified the construction industry as a key driver of economic growth and suggested ways in which government should kick start the recovery.
Bill Bolsover said: "The Government must stick to its spending plans, but rebalance the economy between current and capital spending. The Government’s own figures show current expenditure rising from GBP632bn this year to GBP694bn in 2014/15, whilst capital spending is being cut from GBP61bn to GBP42bn over the same period. Rebalancing this could make way for the GBP5 billion package of essential infrastructure investment which is being widely talked about.’
He also called upon government to do more to stimulate the new build housing market. "Although recent announcements about the release of public sector land for private sector housing are welcome, what is really holding back first-time buyers is not development but access to finance. The Government must examine and encourage ways to help first-time buyers get on the housing ladder through, for example, some kind of mortgage indemnity guarantee scheme, or through a government-backed savings scheme for first-time buyers.
"Finally government must do more to support the proposed Green Deal programme. Through this scheme it is hoped that some 14 million homes across the UK will be improved by the early 2020s. The stimulus to the economy and the benefits to our industry would be huge, however without some fiscal incentive this will not happen. Government must ensure that all Green Deal compliant measures pay the lower 5% rate of VAT as it is perverse to charge 5% tax on a product, ie energy, that we want people to use less of, but 20% on the measures which help them stop using it.’
However, the Association’s Chairman also emphasised it was industry that would deliver the economic recovery and that the role of construction would be crucial in achieving this. But he said: "Politicians must remember that many major construction product manufacturers and suppliers are no longer UK companies so had a choice of where to put their investment. The signals government sends on its reform of the planning system; on the way it decides to support energy intensive industries and on its carbon reduction measures are of concern to a worldwide audience of potential investors in the UK essential to our economic recovery."