The history of Budgets down the decades is characterised by the headlines on the day being bad for drinkers and drivers, while other details are unpicked by the press and opposition over the following week; normally to the embarrassment of the incumbent Chancellor. This year, however, George Osborne took a penny off beer and froze the fuel escalator, while the backing he announced for housing and infrastructure projects has stood up to scrutiny well enough that, here at Plastic Surgeon, we’re viewing it as having been pretty good for our industry. Definitely there was no repeat of the “Pasty Tax” debacle.
Going back to petrol for a moment, with construction being so dependent on the movement of people and products around the country, anything that helps control transport costs is welcome: and with over 100 Finishers out on the road executing specialist substrate repairs across the UK, that’s one we are particularly pleased about.
And as anything which boosts housebuilding activity is generally good for our business, we were very happy to hear about the multi-billion backing for mortgage deals – where NewBuy will see purchasers putting up just 5% of the asking price and the Government underwriting a further 15% in order to reassure mortgage companies.
According to figures from the big lenders like Halifax and Nationwide the Government’s Funding for Lending Scheme has already had an impact over the past year, with mortgage approvals hitting a five-year high in January. Official statistics also confirmed that current Government schemes such as NewBuy – which is now being expanded under the banner of ‘Help to Buy’ – are bearing fruit. We can expect the extra stimulus to continue this trend for higher completions.
Additionally, the number of affordable homes being registered has soared by nearly 120%, according to new figures released by NHBC. The number of affordable homes that housebuilders registered increased from 1,373 in February 2012 to almost 3,000 last month.
The main driver has been the Government’s £2.2billion Affordable Homes Programme, which aims to deliver 170,000 new residential dwellings by April 2015. NHBC meanwhile welcomed measures in the Budget to provide an additional £225 million to support a further 15,000 affordable homes by 2015, all of which the country desperately needs. We, of course, not only provide snagging services as the developments near completion, but work on planned and responsive maintenance for the RSLs themselves.
Finally, although those Government departments facing cutbacks may not agree, the promise of more money for infrastructure project such as road and rail expansions are all good news for construction.