Last Wednesday George Osborne took to the despatch box in the House of Commons to deliver his eighth budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer. His speech covered a wide range of topics, but as a company we were particularly interested in listening out for any comments which may impact upon the construction industry.

We weren’t to be disappointed. Mr Osborne spoke in great depth of his plans for the construction of new homes and the development of the infrastructure the country needs. Speaking about the under-investment of recent decades and how he plans to reverse that he said:

“In every international survey of our country, our failure for a generation to build new housing and new transport has been identified as a major problem. But we are the builders. Today we’re setting out measures to speed up our planning system, zone housing development and prepare the country for the arrival of 5G technology”

Overly Ambitious House Building Targets?

Overall his announcements on investment in new housing and construction were widely welcomed by the industry. However, questions have also been raised regarding the scale of the Chancellor’s ambitions. He has set himself the target of developing a million new homes across the country by the end of the decade – though Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said:

“The Government has set itself a target of a million new homes by 2020. That is rightly ambitious, but the continuing gap between what’s being built and what needs to be built makes hitting that target more difficult by the day.”

His concerns are supported by a BBC Inside Out investigation undertaken in September of last year which highlighted:

  • Estimates from the National Housing Federation indicated that 974,000 homes were required between 2011 and 2014.
  • Feedback from 326 councils showed that less than half of that, 457,490, were actually built.

For developers and companies such as our own, it is positive to see further measures announced to reduce planning red tape and speed up the process. Only time will tell whether the Chancellors ambitious targets are actually achievable though.