Budget response

Keith Richards, executive director at Trident Building Consultancy in Leeds, and Danny McEvoy, executive associate director for the North West.

Keith’s comments:

The lack of detail around infrastructure investment, particularly for the North, could point to HS2 draining most of the investment pot. If this is the case, other key investments, such as the northern answer to Crossrail, could be sidelined.

And though the detail was thin on the ground, there is too much emphasis on roads and using private cars. It was a missed opportunity for investing in public transport, cycling and walking schemes and positioning them as legitimate modes of transport.

That said, the funding for a network of charging points for electric cars is a small but positive step. It would have been sensible to subsidise the production of electric cars and to encourage the UK to establish itself as a leader in this field.

Yorkshire has been greatly impacted by flooding in recent times and the budget for repairs and defence schemes are unlikely to get close to resolving the problems in a sustainable way. 

The investment in carbon capture is encouraging though.

The additional £1bn pledge to removing cladding is a substantial commitment but the Government needs to continue this work through rapidly creating new systems and processes to assure safe buildings; not just tall buildings clad with aluminium composites or high-pressure laminates.

Finally, the government’s plans to move 22,000 of its staff out of the capital is an interesting notion. It would be good news for both the commercial and residential property sectors, a substantial boost for construction and for local economies. But that brings us full circle to infrastructure again and the impact more people would have. The comprehensive spending review has a lot live up to.

Danny’s comments:

The government may be ‘putting spades in the ground’ for growth in the North, but where and when? Until there is an overall detailed plan, we cannot see the results we need.

It is encouraging to hear the Green Book is being reviewed. The North has long been neglected and we need the funding to be devolved to metro mayors.

It was a welcome change to see a ‘splashing the cash’ approach to the Budget but we want a Northern Budget with a say on where it gets spent. Where were the updates on rail infrastructure for example? 

The £1bn cladding fund was a welcome surprise and is undoubtedly a relief to leaseholders. Now it needs rolling out to make people’s homes safe again.

Liverpool’s business district has been seriously lacking in broadband infrastructure, particularly where refurbs are concerned. The situation has been the same in Manchester, the cost of installing a personal line or paying for a separate dedicated broadband line can make office costs soar in the North West. The £5bn investment in faster broadband is essential to enable businesses to work more efficiently.

Clarity on how the property and construction sector can achieve the government’s net zero 2050 goal has not been achieved today. There is huge investment in infrastructure but no guidance on green delivery. The £800m for carbon capture is a drop in the ocean compared to what was available from the Budget. It questions the government’s commitment to collaborating on finding the best solutions.

Finally, dropping business rates for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value below £51,000 is a boost for local high streets, particularly in towns.

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