Federation says housing and construction should have been used to stimulate growth

Today’s Budget was a “missed opportunity for using housing and construction to stimulate growth” the National Federation of Builders has said.

NFB chief executive Julia Evans said George Osborne had announced some positive measures but said the ending of stamp duty relief, the limitations of the Get Britain Building scheme and the failure to harmonise VAT rates on domestic energy efficiency installation were disappointing.

In a statement, Evans added: “Stamp duty relief, introduced in the 2010 Budget to give first-time buyers a step onto the property ladder, is being allowed to lapse. By refusing to renew this relief, at a time when many are struggling to get on the housing ladder, the chancellor has effectively knocked out a step from beneath them.

“The chancellor repeated the government’s £420 million investment to keep the big builders building, adding £150 million to the fund. The Get Britain Building scheme, which was designed to help unlock stalled sites of all sizes, has directed 40% of the fund to the large housebuilders which, judging from the financial results of some of the volume builders, are much less in need of funding than the smaller, lower-volume builders.

“It is particularly disappointing that an opportunity was missed to harmonise VAT rates on the domestic energy efficiency installation, ahead of the Green Deal launch later this year.

“Currently, a reduced rate of 5% VAT applies to the installation of some energy saving materials and micro-generation systems which will be eligible for Green Deal financing, but not to others, leading to unnecessary complexity and perverse incentives.

“Reducing all energy efficiency measures to the lower rate of 5% would have been consistent with the government’s drive towards simplifying the tax system, while at the same time acting to stimulate the market ahead of the Green Deal’s introduction.”

Evans welcomed moves to reduce red tape for small businesses but said the jury was still out on whether the £20 billion National Loan Guarantee Scheme would help SMEs.