Housebuilding and timber sectors welcome UK government’s extra £3.7bn for housing

23 November 2016

The UK government’s much-expected shot in the arm for housing – confirmed in today’s autumn statement – has been welcomed by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI).

Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled a £2.3bn housing infrastructure fund to help provide 100,000 new homes in high-demand areas and £1.4bn to deliver 40,000 extra affordable homes in a further sign that the government sees housebuilding as an important focus area in the UK economy.

“The Chancellor’s £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund is welcome and could go some way to solving the housing crisis,” said Sarah McMonagle, director of external affairs at the FMB.

She said key to the Fund’s success would be ensuring it focuses on unlocking large numbers of small sites and not just small numbers of large sites.

“The Chancellor wants a ‘housing market that works for everyone’ and central to this is empowering small local housebuilders."

The CTI has broadly welcomned the autumn statement.

Speaking on behalf of the CTI, David Hopkins, managing director of the Timber Trade Federation, (TTF), said conditions next year were challenging but he welcomed the switch in government focus from austerity to fiscal stimulus.

“Setting housing and infrastructure at the heart of our economic policy is good news and will have a positive effect on the timber sector,” he said.

 Mr Hopkins also welcomed the emphasis on productivity and the National Productivity Investment Fund and initiatives to drive growth through local enterprise partnerships.

Fellow CTI spokesperson Iain McIlwee, CEO of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), said more detail was needed on the statement about productivity and the chancellor was quiet on the issue of skills.

 “Management Skills had some attention and we also heard heralded that there is a growing number of graduates - this is no doubt a good thing, but unfortunately used in this way we are reinforcing an emphasis on academic options,” said Mr McIlwee. 

“Part of the growth plan is to focus attention on quality apprentices and it is disappointing that this did not get highlighted in the same way.” 

Elsewhere in the autumn statement, the Office for Budget Responsibility upgraded the 2016 growth forecast to 2.1% (up from 2%), but downgraded the growth forecast to 1.4% in 2017, (down from 2.2%).

Thereafter the OBR forecasts growth of 1.7% in 2018, 2.1% in 2019 and 2020 and 2% in 2021.

The government confirmed it was no longer seeking a budget surplus in 2019-20 but was committed to returning public finances to balance “as soon as practicable”.