Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, unveiled his Budget 2013 for an “aspiration nation” but the Glass and Glazing Federation was not too impressed with the overall plans for the construction industry, feeling that the Chancellor could have done more to stimulate real growth.
Nigel Rees GGF Group Chief Executive commented, “Some of the proposals such as the potential £2000 saving on employers National Insurance contributions will help SMEs employ low paid workers, but what we really wanted to see was a consumer incentive, such as a reduction in VAT on windows. Employers need to get the work first, before they can employ people.”
The Budget has already been widely criticised by the green lobby for being devoid of any good news on the green economy. There were no additional incentives to boost the Green Deal and no announcements on plans designed to stimulate energy efficiency in the commercial or public sectors. However, there was a 12 month exemption from the Climate Change Levy for glass manufacturers starting in 2014.
Giles Willson, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Technical Affairs commented; “The one year exemption on the Climate Change Levy will be a reasonable boost for the Flat Glass Manufacturers and is welcome, but it is only a delay in this tax. It is not money back and it is doubtful whether it will have any great impact on the wider industry in the long term”
The Chancellor’s Budget also put forward proposals to rejuvenate the house building sector by incentivising buyers of new-build homes with a “Help to Buy” programme, that includes an interest free loan scheme for homes up to £600,000.
“Help to Buy is a dramatic intervention to get our housing market moving,” Mr Osborne said. “For newly built housing, government will put up a fifth of the cost, and for anyone who can afford a mortgage but can’t afford a big deposit, our mortgage guarantee will help you buy your own home.”
Nigel Rees commented, “On paper, the “Help to Buy” scheme seems like a viable plan and one that could stimulate the housing market in the long term, but in reality the Government is loaning money that banks should be lending house buyers. The real investment needed to stimulate growth in the construction sector was sadly lacking in this Budget. Each year, the UK builds 150,000 new homes but the demand is double that. We would have liked to have seen a much grander plan with bolder ambition from the Government to really drive growth in the economy.”
Under the “Help to Buy” plans, a state-backed mortgage guarantee scheme, previously available only on new build homes, will be extended to any kind of home, old or new, Mr Osborne announced. The nation’s balance sheet will be used to back higher-loan-to-value mortgages, to help people buy homes who can afford a mortgage but not a large deposit. The Chancellor said he would offer £12bn of government guarantees, which would support £130bn of mortgage lending, under a three-year scheme to run from the start of 2014.