Aggregate Industries director of sustainable construction Miles Watkins gives his view of George Osborne’s second Budget.
“It’s encouraging to see government recognising the need to invest in the improvement of the UK’s infrastructure through the £100 million pothole fund and regional rail investment. However, substantial further and longer term investment is required to achieve more than a ‘treading water’ effect, particularly when it comes to the UK’s road network to keep the nation at the forefront of competitiveness. The scale of the liabilities are fast outstripping the investment programme.
“The assistance for first time buyers is also a good initiative to drive activity at this level of the housing market and the knock on effect on the construction industry has to be positive. However, I still have concerns about inadequate investment and incentivisation to address the ageing, inefficient housing stock in the UK and recognising Code Level 5 as zero carbon is lacking ambition. It is essential to mobilise the Green Deal plans as soon as possible.
“Financial backing of science facilities is another positive action. The UK must continue to drive innovation and development, particularly in areas of energy efficiency and sustainability, despite the current economic climate. Also it provides further incentives to construct exemplar buildings from which the whole industry can learn.
“Helping a struggling younger generation back into work is a must and we would be keen to see Government continue to grow this commitment. Work experience and apprenticeships are incredibly effective in businesses such as ours in this sector and remains a key focus for Aggregate Industries following the launch of our in-house Apprenticeship Programme, the first of its kind in the industry.
“To conclude, the investments announced by government today are promising but we need to keep sight of the fact that the UK spends less per capita on construction than many other countries in Europe and when you consider that every £1 spent on construction delivers another £3 back into the economy, we must see substantial further investment in this sector.”