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Budget 2015: How will this year's Budget affect the construction industry?

Hello and welcome to Construction News Budget 2015 live coverage. We will be providing all the build-up and reaction to chancellor George Osborne’s Budget speech and the response of Labour leader Ed Miliband right here. Press F5 to update the page with the latest updates.

2.07pm: Thanks for joining us and keep an eye on for more throughout the afternoon.

2.05pm: We’ve started out write ups and will now pore over the documents. Here are some of the early details.

Help to Buy ISA

Government apprenticeship wage increase ‘pitiful’, says contractor

In Full: Chancellor’s Budget speech

How is industry reactingto the 2015 Budget?

See for more throughout the afternoon.

1.54pm: EdM ends with: “Britain needs a better plan for working families. Britain needs a Labour government.”

1.50pm: Some lines from the Budget document which are of interest:

  • High Speed Rail Investment Summit – The government will fund a High Speed Rail Investment Summit in Birmingham, which will be delivered jointly by UK Trade and Investment and Marketing Birmingham and which will focus overseas investment to the UK on regeneration and supply chain opportunities created around High Speed 2.
  • TfN will shortly publish an interim report, committing to build on the concept of HS3 to develop a network of high quality rail connections across the north – the TransNorth vision
  • The government will invest an initial £60m in a proposal by six universities across the Midlands for a new Energy Research Accelerator
  • £34m plus a further £16m from Transport for London for the development of the Croxley rail link to extend the Metropolitan Line on the London Underground to Watford Junction on the West Coast Main Line, and £4m for further development of the Wet Dock Crossing in Ipswich, and Lowestoft Third River Crossing

1.46pm: Some reaction to the Help to Buy ISA announcement here…

1.44pm: EdM: Five years ago PM said we will balance the books in five years. No ifs, buts or maybes. Today the chancellor boasts he has halved the deficit. But not what PM had promised.

1.42pm: Ed Miliband quoting Leeds council leader as saying “the chancellor is no friend of the North” and Liverpool’s mayor as being critical. Both Labour leaders of course, nice line from Miliband saying he would love to quote a Conservative leader of a North city but there “aren’t any”.

1.40pm: There are 48 mentions of infrastructure in the Budget document. There are 54 mentions of housing. Energy is mentioned 70 times. Road is in there 54 times. Rail gets a paltry 28 mentions. More than construction though, which gets just seven.

1.35pm: Ed Miliband: “This is a Budget people won’t believe in.” Criticises lack of mention of NHS. Says government built fewer homes than any time in 100 years. Adds there are more zero hours contracts than populations of Glasgow, Leeds and Cardiff combined.

1.33pm: Chancellor has finished with “Britain…. the comeback country”. I make it 59 minutes.

1.30pm: Chancellor announces a new Help to Buy ISA. “Effectively a tax cut for first time buyers”. Will work with industry to get it ready for Autumn. For every £250 saved, government will add £50. Boost for first time buyers.

1.25pm: A reminder of some of the headline announcements so far, below…

1.20pm: Budget Bingo Alert: Chancellor makes ‘two kitchens’ dig at Ed Miliband

1.17pm. Remember much of this has been announced already. We’ll be poring over the detail in the documents as soon as they’re published.

1.14pm: £7bn rail investment for south west, plus new franchise and ‘road improvements’. 100 per cent retention of the growth in Business Rates for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

1.12pm: Commentator curse strikes again. Construction benefits from money (and a few reannouncements) such as Brent Cross development, extension of eight Enterprise Zones, transport plan for the North; opening negotiations on Swansea Tidal Lagoon, working on City Deals for Cardiff, Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen, 20 Housing Zones, £60m incinerator for Birmingham.


1.05pm: Update on that startling ‘Yorkshire would beat France in an employment fight’ theme earlier from Fraser Nelson, editor at The Spectator.

1.02pm: Chancellor also says “apprenticeships have doubled”. Anyone care to substantiate that for me???

1pm: Zero hours contracts regulated, according to the chancellor. Here’s some analysis by our data editor on how they are used in construction.

12.59pm: Chancellor’s statement that “we are all in it together” draws much guffawing from the opposition benches. Some slightly un-Parliamentary language from the shadow transport secretary here…

12.58pm: KPMG’s Richard Threlfall (and plenty of others) not sure about the North growing faster than the South line earlier….

12.57pm: Budget Bingo being taken to new lengths by Trustmark chairman Liz Male…

12.54pm: Labour leader Ed Miliband shaking his head in the manner of someone who has been told he is in the wrong. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls muttering at the PM.

12.53pm: Budget Bingo Alert: “The sun is starting to shine and we are fixing the roof.”

12.52pm: Chancellor: “Higher national debt leaves our nation exposed. Five years ago national debt was soaring and that was why in my first Budget I set a target we would have national debt falling as a share of GDP by the last year of this Parliament. The original debt target I set out in my first Budget has been met.”

12.50pm: Nice gag from chancellor aimed at the Labour government under Gordon Brown here…

12.46pm: Chancellor: It’s the lowest paid who suffer most when the economy fails, it’s the lowest paid who benefit when you turn it around.

12.43pm: Chancellor: “Those who say jobs are all part-time in London? Nonsense.” Points to the great county of Yorkshire creating more jobs than France. A job in the Midlands every 10 minutes.

12.42pm: Chancellor: “Over the last year the North grew faster than the South. We are seeing a truly national recovery.”

12.39pm: The chancellor is discussing growth. OBR revised UK GDP up. A year ago 2015 GDP growth was 2.3 per cent and now 2.5 per cent.

George Osborne Budget 15

12.37pm: The ONS is off and running…

12.35pm: Make no mistake, this is the chancellor setting out a re-election speech. Possibly a more effective podium than leaders’ debates? “We choose the future. We choose to use whatever additional resource we have to get the debt and deficit falling.”

12.34pm: Chancellor: “Five years ago millions could not find work. Today more people have jobs in Britain than ever before.”

12.34pm: Chancellor: “Today I report on a Britain that is growing, creating jobs and paying its way… Britain is walking tall again.”

12.33pm: KPMG are backing a 63-minute George Osborne speech. And we’re off…..

12.27pm: It’s nearly time, folks. PM has spoken about vital importance of infrastructure to Northampton in response to a question. Let’s hope it’s not the last time we hear the word infrastructure over the next hour…

12.25pm: Business secretary Vince Cable deep in thought at PM’s questions. Or else he has a headache. Or else he’s asleep. Probably the right time to plug our interview with him (and Ray O’Rourke) earlier this month.

Vince Cable pic

12.21pm: BBC Wake up to Money presenter Adam Parsons has tweeted a Budget Bingo for your perusal. Nothing on the price of a pint or HS3 (or Crossrail North for that matter).

12.15pm: Here’s a link to our analysis today on the impact of elections on workloads. A little pre-Budget whetting of appetite, if you will.

12.13pm: Here’s an update on Nick Clegg, from Sky News’s political correspondent.

12.08pm: Perhaps unsurprisingly, the NHS being brought up as a sparring ground in PMQs by Labour leader Ed Miliband before Budget 2015 kicks off. Mr Miliband says the NHS “cannot survive another five years in the hands of this government”. Mr Cameron wonders why Mr Miliband isn’t discussing falling unemployment.

12:03pm: HS3, Crossrail North, whatever its name, there’s no doubt Osborne is keen on devolving power to the North-west in order to stimulate growth. This is what he said in last year’s autumn statement.

12:01pm: PMQs is under way. For once the prime minister isn’t the centre of attention on a Wednesday in Parliament.

11:57am: Anne Begg MP asks what this year’s ‘rabbit’ will be in Osborne’s speech (i.e. pulled out of the hat). Wonder if the chancellor could pull off the favoured trick of the late Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, finishing with “And one more thing” to reveal a welcome innovation or surprise.

11.52am: Labour’s response to today’s drop in unemployment, delivered by Rachel Reeves MP.

11.50am: The ONS will be tweeting links to its stats during the chancellor’s speech. We’ll be looking at the policy costings immediately after George Osborne sits down.

11.49am: About to have my third cup of tea. This time with a cookie. Stay tuned for more.

11.46am: Proof that this blog is being read. Thanks to Mark Roper at CECA who reckons HS3 needs a name change. All tweets to @cntomfitz please. Be nice.

11.38am: The CBI is among those putting skills at the centre of its wishlist for today’s Budget. CNplus will have an update on apprentice pay later. Watch this space.

11.33am: Here’s Michael Conroy Harris, construction lawyer at Eversheds:

The UK construction industry is on tenterhooks as to the package of measures the chancellor has put together to take the shackles off house building development. With the pent up demand most acute in London and the South East, wider powers for the Mayor of London really could kick start activity and there’s little doubt that he would relish the challenge of Boris or bust.

11.30am: Here’s a reminder of what the industry has been lobbying for so far. The Institution of Civil Engineers made recommendations on 10 policy areas. These included that the government create an independent infrastructure body; commit to a long-term maintenance investment programme for flood risk management; and accelerate the devolution of transport powers. Read the full ICE statement here.

11.28am: For those who prefer their red box moments in motion…

11.26am: Grey tie?? Grey?? For those who were questioning whether this would be a controversial Budget, I believe you have your answer.


11.20am: For those of you who don’t know, here’s why George Osborne does that ‘hold box above the head and look slightly awkward but content’ thing outside 11 Downing St before delivering the Budget (see pic, right).


11.13am: Also, if you need to see more politicians in hard hats, we’ve put together a handy blog with images gallery to satisfy your appetite.

11.11am: Does a general election really have an impact on contractor workloads? Our data editor has taken a look at the impact of elections on output and new orders.

11.05am: Hopefully Ed Balls hasn’t forgotten the Budget is happening today. The latest from his Twitter feed suggests he’s either very busy preparing his attack, or not sure what to say about the latest unemployment stats.

10.52am: You know how senior government politicians love a good hard hat in the run-up to elections (and, frankly, any time in the last few years)? Here’s Brandon Lewis, housing minister, tweeting the PM’s suited and booted visit to Crossrail this week.

10.48am: More on the Standard’s reported Budget giveaways. This is what they report will be mentioned in this afternoon’s speech:

  • The Mayor of London to be given new powers over 50 riverside wharves which are currently governed by Whitehall regulations, allowing City Hall to negotiate for new developments in consultation with Londoners.

  • A £97 million down-payment for a new station at Brent Cross which will help lead to the construction of 7,500 homes and support 27,000 jobs.

  • A £7 million injection of public money for the Croydon growth zone, aiming to create 4,000 homes and 10,000 jobs

10.36am: Here’s what the papers are reporting this morning: The FT leads with ‘tax cuts, avoidance crackdown and looser austerity’ in what will be “arguably George Osborne’s most political Budget to date”; The Guardian has news that the chancellor will announce formal negotiations on funding the £1bn Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project; last night’s London Evening Standardset out plans by the government to give London mayor Boris Johnson more powers to get housebuilding moving in the capital.

10.34am: George Osborne has delivered what must now be described as his traditional pre-speech coin tweet. This one is the new 12-sided pound coin featuring the four symbols of the UK – a rose, leek, thistle and shamrock. Here’s a helpful link to let you compare to last years’s resilient pound coin.

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