Construction industry figures welcome green tax relief but remain sceptical on government's ability to deliver

The construction industry's reaction to Alistair Darling’s first Budget has been unenthusiastic.

The chancellor did acknowledge some issues that the industry has been long pushing for including tackling climate change, reducing congestion and ploughing more money into affordable and social housing.

But a major concern among industry figures is how the government will follow through on housing and green measures as minimum detail was provided on plans to implement them.

Richard Steer, senior partner at Gleeds, said: “Clearly the chancellor has had little room for manoeuvre and this has not been a surprising budget.

"The tax breaks for brown field sites is to be welcomed, whether it will change developer behaviour is difficult to predict. His efforts to incentivise contractors, designers and developers through tax relief on energy efficient measures has got to be a good thing.”

Among the housing and green measures announced were:

  • From April, key workers, such as teachers and nurses, will be able to borrow money from shared equity schemes.
  • Stamp duty on shared ownership homes will not be required until people own 80% of their home.
  • More people should have the chance to have a long-term fixed mortgage.
  • Sites for 70,000 more houses have been identified.
  • £26m will be invested to fund the Green Homes Service.
  • New non-domestic buildings to become zero-carbon from 2019.

There was also good news for SMEs:

  • Corporation tax will fall from 30% to 28% by April this year.
  • More help for small businesses with capital gains tax remaining at 10%.
  • 30% of government work will go to small to medium sized companies within five years.