If George Osborne smashed the construction industry with a heavy stick in the Comprehensive Spending Review, he offered it a baby carrot in today’s Budget.
Last October, the Chancellor slashed capital spending across almost every gvernment department as he bid to reduce the public deficit.
The dirty work done, he was today able to play the good guy, announcing a range of measures to stimulate growth.
There were a number of new planning policies including relaxing the rules on change of use, a trial for land auctions and a default approval position for sustainable developments.
Housebuilders were boosted by support for first-time buyers of new homes, reduced stamp duty on many bulk investments, changes to Real Estate Investment Trusts and the sell-of of £350m of Ministry of Defence land for housing.
The sustainable construction sector received the welcome news that the Green Investment Bank will be able to borrow and invest by 2015.
There were even specific funding announcements such as £200 million for rail schemes, £100m for pothole repairs, £150m for technical colleges and £100m for science centres.
So far so good - taken in isolation. But when we remember the dramatic cuts to capital budgets in the CSR, and the damage done to the economy over the past three years, the picture is clearly different.
Most industy commentators feel that today’s measures will fail to counteract the prevailing economic conditions. “Drop in the ocean” is how the Construction Products Association described the help for housebuilders.
If the government is serious about stimulating the construction industry, with all its economy-boosting might, then why doesn’t it do more simple things right?
For example, get the stick back out and ensure publication of the James review. The report into a system to replace the £55 billion Building Schools for the Future scheme - scrapped by this government - is three months overdue.
There is a bigger carrot that is starting to grow mould.