Tax relief on cleaning up contaminated land will be welcomed but little else to cheer

Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer, delivered what is expected to be his final Budget on Wednesday with a series of headline measures and a number of green provisions.

Among the green measures announced were:

  • Zero-carbon homes valued at up to £500,000 will be exempt from stamp duty until 2012.
  • Green grants for homes will rise by 50%.
  • Pensioners installing insulation and green central heating
  • systems will receive grants of between £300 and £4,000.
  • The VAT on housing alterations needed by the elderly will be cut from 17.5% to 5%.
  • Proposals were made to extend relief on corporation tax for cleaning up contaminated land. A consultation paper, published with the Budget, proposes that the 150% relief should be widened to include all derelict sites and the cost of removing Japanese knotweed.
  • The aggregates levy will rise from £1.60 a tonne to £1.95 a tonne from next April, and landfill tax will rise by £8 a year until 2011.
However, some industry commentators expressed disappointment that the chancellor did not bring forward more radical proposals on the environment, and that the issue of energy use in existing buildings was not addressed.

Public services also received boosts. Education spending in England will rise from £60bn this year to £74bn in 2010, and the NHS in England will get an extra £8bn over the next year.

In a move designed to win the backing of councils for the planning gain supplement Brown said that 70% of revenue raised from the levy would be paid directly to councils. He also said that in London the remaining 30% would be paid to the mayor.

Brown also announced that developers would have business tax relief on empty property cut to six months.

He introduced legislation to address tax loopholes with managed service companies, which affect many labour agencies. The rules come into effect in April next year.

In a surprise move he said the basic rate of income tax would be cut from 22p to 20p from April next year.

The main points

  • Green initiatives cover new buildings and microgeneration but fail to address existing stock
  • Investment in public services will rise, with £74bn for schools by 2012 and NHS to receive £8bn more.
  • Construction industry hit by rise in aggregates levy and landfill tax
  • Large companies will pay less tax
  • Small companies will pay more, but will receive training grants

Reaction What the industry said ...

Construction Confederation

The devil is always in the detail but the decision to reduce VAT from 17.5% to 5% is welcome as is the extra investment in training and apprenticeships.


We are disappointed there wasn't more on the environment. There were minor measures that he has been aspiring to do. He didn't do anything to address existing buildings.

The British Property Federation

The government has thrown the last dice to rally support for the planning gain supplement. Having received no support during the recent round of consultation, this undoubtedly has to be seen as a sweetener.


The chancellor told us that his Budget would be about sustainable growth. But behind the headline-making tax cuts, there's not much that's new