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Construction growth plan unveiled
A rebalancing of public expenditure in favour of capital investment, a targeted cut in VAT on works to make homes greener, and new models for financing major infrastructure are needed to unlock growth in the UK’s strategically crucial construction industry.

These are some of the key recommendations of a new report, published on November 24 by an alliance of seven leading industry bodies from across the UK. The alliance has a combined membership of more than 40,000 companies and thousands of individual built environment professionals.

The report highlights the critical importance of the construction industry to the UK economy, representing 7% of total economic output, and suggests it will have a pivotal role to play in rebuilding growth. In addition to a lack of public funding and poor availability of private finance, the report identifies planning delays, burdensome bureaucracy and weak customer confidence as other major barriers to growth in the industry. It urges the UK Government to press ahead with controversial reforms to England’s planning system and to accelerate planning reforms elsewhere in the UK.

The report suggests further action is needed to widen the availability of bank lending to construction firms and supports recently announced measures to improve the availability of affordable mortgages for first-time buyers. It urges the Government to prioritise additional funding for capital investment, calls for VAT on sustainable domestic upgrades to be reduced to 5% and suggests new finance models for major infrastructure projects need to be implemented as a matter of urgency.

To inform the report’s key recommendations, members of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), the Construction Products Association, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), the National Federation of Builders (NFB), and the Scottish Building Federation were all surveyed and asked to indicate what they considered to be the main barriers to growth in the UK construction industry.