The heads of the Timber Trade and British Woodworking Federations believe chancellor Alistair Darling could have done more to free up credit insurance in yesterday’s budget.

BWF chief executive Richard Lambert described the government’s credit insurance top up scheme, worth up to half the sum required or £1m and lasting six months from April 1, 2009, as “too little too late”.

“Most of the problems in obtaining credit insurance in the construction industry emerged from summer last year and those affected had their limits restricted long before April 1,” he said. “Furthermore, the insurers’ apparent view of the risks covering construction-related contracts is such that they will almost certainly still be seen as “unacceptably high’.”

TTF chief executive John White said that his organisation has campaigned for assistance for the credit insurance market and said the latest move “is something”.

“But much damage was sustained by the industry before the start of the month,” he said. “[The scheme] will also be administered by the credit insurance companies, so our members should get in touch with them to see how they are managing the opportunity.”

Mr White welcomed the budget’s £1bn boost to the housing sector, half of which will go direct to developers.

“Delivery is key and we will watch with interest,” he said.

He also thought the £300m earmarked to “bail out the cock up in college’s capital projects” would make an impact and said it was good to see the doubling of of first year capital allowances to 40%.

Richard Lambert said as a whole the chancellor was too timid.

“Plans to bump-start housebuilding are welcome, but they could have done much more to stimulate the refurbishment market by reducing VAT and putting together a really ambitious programme to address the desperate need to improve the energy efficiency of existing housing.”