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FMB: Energy efficient homes 'a missed opportunity'

George Osborne’s failure to support energy efficiency in the home is a missed opportunity to help boost growth, cut carbon emissions and reduce householders’ fuel bills, says the Federation of Master Builders.

In response to the chancellor’s autumn statement, Brian Berry, the chief executive of the FMB, said: “The chancellor should have taken the opportunity to support the government’s own green deal energy-efficiency initiative by introducing more incentives, including a lower rate of VAT on housing repair, maintenance and improvement work to encourage homeowners to take advantage of the green deal.

“Local building companies are best placed for this type of work, but are reluctant to jump through the hoops involved without stronger market demand.”

“The £5 billion for capital investment is good news and clearly shows the government recognises the positive impact a growing construction sector has on the economy. However, the chancellor should have done more beyond the measures to support 120,000 new homes already announced. That is just half the number of new homes needed each year to meet current demand.

“Industry forecasts show public housing activity is likely to fall further between now and the next election in 2015. If the government cannot find additional funding for affordable housing it must redouble efforts to improve access to mortgages so the private housing market can help deliver a significant increase in the total number of new homes being built,” he added.

“Efforts by the government to bring forward new sites for development quickly by releasing public-sector land and investing in infrastructure are welcome, but too often these measures don’t benefit smaller house builders. The funding to unlock stalled sites needs to be readily available for use on smaller scale developments, so that the thousands of small and medium-sized firms can boost the industry’s production capacity.”

“The chancellor’s business bank announcement is welcome, but it won’t be fully operational until 2014. Our latest research shows that lending to businesses needs to improve now.

“More than 40 per cent of construction SMEs have found it more expensive to access credit in the past two years, which has led to lost growth opportunities and cuts in employment and training. Construction businesses are also experiencing smaller workloads because their clients can’t access finance. The government must work hard to ensure the business bank gets finance flowing to firms of all sizes as soon as possible.”

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