Chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised "the largest real-terms increase in overall departmental spending for any parliament this century."
Specifically, the government has committed to a spending increase by its departments of £150bn a year in cash terms by March 2025 - a £90bn real-terms increase.
But was this a triumphant rallying cry or just another missed opportunity? Our CEO and our Chairman, Graham Harle and Richard Steer, both shared their reactions.
“Todays’ Budget, for us operating in property and Construction, felt a little like a hotly anticipated meal where Chef had leaked much of his surprise menu in advance & when it came to it, the showstopper was something of a soggy soufflé. For instance last weeks’ news on the Governments heat and buildings strategy, gave the Chancellor a chance to announce serious funding for a long term national retrofit programme to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s 30 million buildings but we heard nothing and news of the much delayed revised integrated rail plan was also absent." Graham Harle, chief executive officer
“There was £1.5bn in new money to improve transport links which is welcomed plus £1.8 bn for brownfield residential and £3.8bn to build new prisons. Investment relief on business rates for green improvements is also welcomed as were new discounts for retail and hospitality, but when achieving carbon zero is seen as a bigger issue by most people than covid, the lack of investment in a national retrofit programme area was a missed opportunity.” Richard Steer, Gleeds Chairman
Some of the notable Budgets announcements are detailed below.
New tax relief policies
New investment relief to encourage businesses to encourage green upgrades like solar panels.
New business rates improvement relief. From 2023, firms can improve property and pay no extra business rates.
"That means a hotel adding extra rooms, a manufacturer expanding their factory, an office adding new air-conditioning, CCTV or bike shelters".
Skills spending is being upped by £3.8bn, a boost of 42%.
The target to increase research and development investment (R&D) investment to £22bn is being maintained.
A scale-up visa system was announced to make it easier for fast-growing businesses to bring in highly-skilled individuals.
It will help "identify, attract and relocate the best global talent in key science and tech sectors" he says and is "all part of our plan to make our visa system for international talent the most competitive in the world".
Unfortunately, no mention was made of HS2 or Northern Powerhouse Rail, but Sunak said the integrated rail plan would be published "soon".
£5.7bn for "London style" transport settlements in Greater Manchester, Liverpool, the tees Valley, Yorkshire, the West Midlands and the West of England.
£2.6bn for local road upgrades.
£5bn for local road maintenance.
£5bn for walking and cycling routes.
£1.7bn to invest in "infrastructure of everyday life".
£170m in Scotland
£120m in Wales
£50m in Northern Ireland
Developers' levy confirmed
£5bn is being committed to removing cladding from high risk buildings, partly funded by the residential property developers tax.
This will be levied on developers with profits over £25m at a rate of 4%.
Sunak confirmed £1.8bn for brownfield housing.
Two major new spending rules were announced:
Underlying public sector net debt must as a percentage of GDP be falling.
Everyday spending must be met through taxation in normal times.
Lorry Park facilities & HGV levy
Chancellor announced new funding to improve lorry park facilities.
Sunak is extending the suspension of the HGV levy for a further year to 2023 and freezing excise duty for heavy vehicles to aid deliveries amid a shortage of drivers.