Spring Budget 2016: Comments

Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Budget statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday, 16 March 2016. Listed is a selection of comments on the key announcements.

Property expert, eMoov CEO and former Brentwood First councillor, Russell Quirk, commented:

“A very disappointing budget from a property point of view and for UK buyers and sellers. The capital gains tax reductions, whilst bold, are a missed trick and a kick in the teeth for those second home-sellers, that will not benefit from a reduction in capital gains tax on their property sale. This was hardly a budget to assist hard working people with more than one property, not to mention Mr Osborne’s total failure to address the issue of housing supply that has been touched upon in previous budgets.

It’s startling that the provision of much-needed housing supply did not seem to be referred to at all, despite rhetoric in previous budgets seemingly encouraging public land to be turned over to address the housing supply issue.

In previous budgets, Mr Osborne has enjoyed referring to fixing the roof whilst the sun is shining, may I respectively suggest that he turns his attention to building some roofs whilst the sun is shining instead.

The move to apply new stamp duty changes to larger institutional investors, as well as smaller Buy to Let landlords, is a fair one, although I believe this was probably an oversight from last year and nothing to shout from the rooftops about.

I think the move to mirror the residential stamp duty slice system for commercial properties is also a fair one, but again, not a move that will benefit the man on the street as it were but more the larger commercial developer.

However, the changes to business rate thresholds is a very welcome one indeed and no doubt one of the big headlines of the budget, to help small business’ which of course as a Conservative, surely George should be doing.”

This Budget may prove to be a missed opportunity in the Government’s race against time to meet its own housing targets, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has warned in response to the Budget Statement.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said:

“The Government has set itself a target of a million new homes by 2020. That is rightly ambitious, but the continuing gap between what’s being built and what needs to be built makes hitting that target more difficult by the day. Official statistics show that annual housing completions in England totalled just over 140,000 in 2015, a long way short of the 200,000 homes we need every year to hit one million.

“We are nearly 12 months into the current Parliament and the Government is already falling well behind on its targets. We recognise that the Government is working on a number of fronts to speed up the planning process and intervene to support first time buyers, and some of the measures in today’s Budget are welcome steps forward. Yet these announcements are limited in scope and won’t signal the step change that we need to see. We cannot afford to lose momentum in the battle to beat the housing crisis.”

On Crossrail 2 and the housing issues, Michael Thirkettle, Chief Executive of leading interdisciplinary international construction and property consultancy McBains Cooper, said:

“The Chancellor’s go-ahead for Crossrail 2 will bring about an overdue improvement to the capital’s infrastructure. It is good that, from the beginning, it will include plans to build new housing around the new stations.

“However, property developers will want to know more about the proposed levy on them to pay for the rail project, particularly as it comes on top of the apprenticeships levy. It is important that any additional tax burdens on developers do not end up discouraging house-building in the capital.”

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Budget Speech, RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Maf Smith said:

“Commenting on the Budget Speech, RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Maf Smith said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that funding will be available for future rounds of competitive auctions to support offshore wind farms. The budget is tight but we’re up for the challenge. We’re confident that today’s announcement will deliver 3.5 gigawatts of new offshore wind capacity between 2021 and 2025 – powering more than 3.5 million British homes.

“This budget shows that offshore wind will be cheaper than new nuclear power and competing with gas by 2025, making it even better value for money. The industry is playing its part continuing to drive down costs relentlessly – we released a report this week showing in detail how we’re ahead of what was predicted. Today’s announcement will increase confidence, attracting billions of pounds of investment in the UK’s supply chain. It’s long term commitments such as this which will keep the UK as the number one destination in the world for investors in this technology.”

Budget 2016: Reaction from WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

Commenting on the HS3 and Crossrail 2 announcement, Tony Kearns, operations director for rail at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, said:

“The Chancellor’s backing of HS3 and Crossrail 2 is fantastic news. This commitment to the project, alongside other major railway investments nationwide, gives the engineering sector the confidence to recruit in preparation and develop the skills the industry needs to deliver these ambitious schemes.

“We now need the education sector to play a role in encouraging more young people into engineering to help us produce more high quality rail engineers if we’re going to fulfil these development projects, which are needed to modernise our railway infrastructure. Initiatives like the HS2 Rail Academy in Doncaster are playing a part in addressing this issue, but companies like WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, which have expertise in this field, also have a key role to play in inspiring and cultivating the next generation of home-grown engineers.”

Commenting on abolition of the Carbon Reduction commitment, David Symons, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff environmental director said:

“Simplifying energy taxes is welcome – abolishing CRC helps business cut bureaucracy and energy use at the same time. CRC lost much of its interest to senior managers once the revenue recycling elements of the scheme was removed. Abolishing it is the right thing to do, although the only surprise is that it’s still around until 2019.

“We were never expecting green-friendly policies to dominate – but seeing so little so soon after the Paris agreement still feels like a missed opportunity. Once again, this Budget shows it’s difficult to balance climate leadership, protect UK oil and gas jobs, and eliminate the deficit.”

BSRIA Chief Executive, Julia Evans, has given her reaction to the Chancellor’s 2016 Budget.

“Industry wanted a steady and balanced Budget, and that’s what we got. The Chancellor has avoided higher business taxes and costs – and indeed lowered them in a number of areas. He has taken action to lessen the burden of business rates and honed incentives for investment.”

Energy and tax

“It is a shame that the Budget didn’t ‘go further’ to include simpler energy efficiency schemes to be counted as infrastructure – so that they are funded out of taxation rather than fuel bills that many households are struggling to afford – which is regressive. Insulation pays for itself so many times over – especially when you include the creation of jobs.”

“ is encouraging news for BSRIA SME members and the wider industry since it will allow such companies to bid more easily for more contacts and generally compete with more corporate businesses. In essence, this allows them to make investments with certainty.”

Increase in the climate change levy:

“The government must be watchful in making sure that carbon taxes on businesses do not make them internationally uncompetitive.

But what of renewable energy? Such green credentials must play a part in achieving carbon emissions targets. Delivering the change that is required to meet such targets will require long term investment from industry; this will only happen if it has the confidence to do so.”

Peter Ward, CEO of the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA)

“The Chancellor’s comments regarding the global economic outlook reinforce the fact, if indeed it needed reinforcing, that high professional standards, lean operations, innovation and a lot of hard work will remain fundamental requirements for companies operating in the 3PL sector.

“The decision to freeze fuel duty will be warmly welcomed by UKWA members. It will reduce the cost pressures on UK supply chains and, it is to be hoped, stimulate further growth in the nation’s economy.

“By taking this action Mr Osborne has gone some way towards levelling a playing field that many people believe has been tilted against British logistics firms who compete with European operators whose lorries arrive in Britain filled with enough cheap fuel for a week’s work.

“Mr Osborne’s ongoing commitment to investment in road building and other infrastructure projects is also pleasing.

“The country faces some serious choices on infrastructure spending in the coming years as the many and varied social changes that impact upon our traditional ways of life continue apace.

“Societal shifts will lead to inevitable growth in logistics activity and substantial investment on roads and other key infrastructure projects must be given priority. Mr Osborne appears to realise this.

“I am sure UKWA members will also be glad to see the headline rates of corporation tax continue to fall.”

Gráinne Gilmore, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, comments:

“The Government’s reversal on the exemption for large-scale investors is surprising, but unlikely to lead to a significant dampening of interest in the build-to-rent sector.

“Bulk purchases of residential units at the lower value end of the scale will be most affected by the Chancellor’s move, which seems counter to the Government’s pledge to provide more affordable housing. But the rental market is an entrenched and growing part of the UK housing market, and as such, institutional investment in this asset class will likely continue to grow.”