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Budget can't make Britain any promises

Tom Fitzpatrick

Every year around Budget time, CN reporters are inundated with press-released pleas from construction trade bodies, companies and leaders.

Reduce VAT rates for home repairs and improvements, they say. Fix, moderate or scrap the Community Infrastructure Levy. Incentivise energy efficiency.

But most of all, the industry begs the chancellor to inject money into the nation’s homes and infrastructure.

It’s around this time that you start to remember why you loathe the phrase ‘the devil will be in the detail’.

But this year, the press release missives are a little thin on the ground ahead of Monday’s Budget statement.

Is it because everyone is confused by the Budget being held in the autumn now, whereas previously we had the Autumn Statement (sometimes delivered in winter)?

Or is it because it’s hard to see what this government, country and industry might look like in six months’ to a year’s time, so no one knows who to lobby and for what?

Philip Hammond is not prone to excitement. It’s hard to imagine him relishing the theatre of Budget day, delivering the big giveaways with a grin like his predecessor George Osborne.

But the chancellor can be forgiven on this occasion. Can anyone say with any certainty what this government will look like in a month’s time, let alone this time next year?

As I write, there are rumours of a Brexit deal on the verge of being signed off. There is also speculation of a vote of no confidence in the prime minister being triggered.

If the chancellor announced tens of billions for infrastructure projects, can anyone say with any confidence that they will be carried out, especially with growing uncertainty over HS2?

Better to wait for the post-Brexit Budget to learn how to position your business.

Inspire Me – calling all men

At our Inspire Me event in Birmingham last week, men made up only a dozen or so of more than 110 people in attendance. This has been a perennial problem we have faced with this campaign’s events: while each one has been oversubscribed, men have been (mostly) conspicuous by their absence.

Gender equality is good for business, so men: support our campaign. More than 200 delegates are registered for our next half-day conference at the CN Summit in London on 21 November.

If you’re attending the Summit already, pop in and learn about the campaign and the issues. If not, email megan.pringle@emap.com to add your name to the list.

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