As is usual these days, many of the key points from the Budget appeared in newspapers before the Chancellor got to his feet in the House of Commons earlier today. As a result, there were no massive surprises. Overall there was, perhaps, more give than take for the construction industry.
However, giving with one hand and then taking with the other is not helpful to the sector as we help drive the country out of lockdown.
The big thing here is that this scheme will be open to people of all ages. It is an incentive to upskill and aid professional development for all.
Any investment in training has to be a good thing, but businesses need to ensure someone is allocated, and has the time, to supervise and manage any training scheme to make it successful. We have first-hand experience of this and have learned from our mistakes. Money alone will not achieve the aim.
The construction industry should be seen as an attractive proposition for young people seeking training schemes. We have kept going through most of the last 12 months. We need to champion that we are open for business and offer great opportunities.
There are some great training schemes out there in manufacturing and construction, like those at the British Woodworking Federation We need to be shouting about these.
Delighted this has been confirmed. This has to be good news for our industry. We really need this right now to help keep our supply chains flowing, avoid client delays and ensure the sector is fit for business as Covid restrictions ease.
Anything that helps stimulate this end of the market is a good thing. It also helps apprentices and future tradespeople with jobs, potentially enabling them to move closer to employers rather than where mum and dad are.
It’s been mooted for some time but today it was confirmed: a new rate of £8.91 per hour from April.
While I wholeheartedly agree with the gradual increases to improve lifestyles for those in more manual roles, there is a significant downside. The gap between manual workers and those who are more skilled is shrinking. This is a disincentive to people to upskill and develop professionally.
At this time, I feel funds would be better funnelled to schemes like Help to Grow and Kickstart, helping to upskill people. With increased automation, there are fewer and fewer roles for those on minimum wage. Increasing the threshold, therefore, could be a disincentive to companies employing people in more manual roles.
It seems to me this is not taking account of the bigger picture. Available funds could be better channelled towards improving pay in the NHS, for example, at this moment in time.
Giving with one hand and taking away with the other? Not helpful. Few companies in construction will be in a position to cope with a tax hike right now. Many have kept going through the last year and continued to contribute taxes. This means lower uptake of the furlough scheme, putting less pressure on the public purse. Why penalise us now?
Other sectors, quite understandably, have not been able to operate so have not been able to contribute. They have been hit badly and many may not open again. However, it’s entirely possible that this broad-brush approach now on corporation tax will be the death knell for some companies in a sector which has done what it can to keep industry moving during unprecedented times.
That said, this not coming in until 2023 and not affecting companies whose profits have been severely hit by current circumstances, does lessen the pain.
This is a great move to further help companies invest in new premises and equipment, heading off issues linked to a reduction in routine maintenance. In these times, with companies looking to cut costs, routine maintenance and investment in new equipment are easy targets, but it is a false economy. Further down the line, equipment fails, buildings crumble and that affects everyone in a supply chain.
Extending the existing scheme from 100% to 130% tax encourages modernisation.
So, lots to talk about, many positives, some negatives but, overall, I’m feeling slightly happier than I was this morning.
Stairways Midlands Joint Managing Director
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