The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) met with cabinet ministers recently and quizzed them on several aspects of last month’s Budget and the government’s associated plan for growth.

The secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, Vince Cable spoke on several subjects relevant to merchants – such as credit availability, business investment and re-aligning skills to meet the low-carbon challenge – and answered questions from BMF managing director Chris Pateman on asset-backed lending for home improvements, including the forthcoming Green Deal financial package.

The chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, spoke about the planned reductions in Corporation Tax and changes to planning permission.

“We are grateful to the Liberal Democrats for asking us to participate in their post-Budget discussion,” said Mr Pateman.

“We were encouraged by Budget measures like the new help for first-time buyers, the cut in road fuel duty and the release of publicly-owned land for development. We also welcome the reforms to the planning system which we believe will prove more fundamental and more far-reaching than most commentators have yet realised.”

Mr Pateman added, however, that he believed the government had missed “a crucial tactical opportunity” to kick-start the private enterprise-led recovery.

“A selective VAT reduction on home improvement projects, a new flexibility for local authorities to reflect householders’ investments in carbon reduction with a lower rate of Council Tax, or even a revision of the Stamp Duty regime, could have all made a qualitative difference to the economy at only nominal medium-term cost to the Exchequer.”