The Chancellor’s upcoming Autumn Statement is an opportunity for government to address key challenges facing the construction products industry and strengthen the fragile signs of recovery, said Construction Products Association Chairman Geoff Cooper before an audience of nearly 600 senior industry leaders and government officials at the Association’s Autumn lunch.
“Following a difficult start to 2013 we have begun to see growth; however, the recovery is in its early days and will quickly be put in jeopardy unless the government lends further support.
“We need policymakers to provide greater confidence and certainty to business, particularly now in three main areas: housing, infrastructure and energy supply. These key drivers of construction and product manufacturing will help the market to grow and promote a sustainable and robust recovery, also ensuring that the materials needed to deliver all of these projects add value to the UK.”
Mr cooper went on to highlight the importance of the housing sector and said of the enrgy efficiency measures being pursued: “Much has been made of the initial shortcomings of policies meant to support this sector (housing), such as the Green Deal. We share some of those concerns, and in the absence of refinements and improvements to such programmes, we have invested considerable time and effort over the past year to create a better model.
“We want to give the general public confidence that installing these measures will not only make their homes more comfortable in the winter and summer; it will also reduce their energy bills and do a bit for the planet. Furthermore, when it comes time to sell, their homes will be more desirable as a consequence.
“We are calling upon the government to link the energy performance of the property to the stamp duty which the buyer pays, and offer a stamp duty refund where the new home owner improves the performance within the first 18 months of ownership. We believe this will be highly effective in driving change right at the time homeowners are most likely to make such improvements. Also, crucially, our model shows that such an incentive would not leave the Treasury out of pocket.”
Mr. Cooper concluded: “For construction product manufacturers there are enormous opportunities to innovate and champion UK production, especially as the market moves towards digitisation, low carbon and resource efficient construction.
“In addition, we have already seen how the work of the Association in developing and now delivering elements of the Industrial Strategy for Construction can help act as a tremendous catalyst to breaking down the construction industry’s ‘silo mentality’ and coming together as one real partner for government.
“Ultimately, however, all of these opportunities are at risk unless government prioritises action on these important issues and provides the crucial clarity and certainty which business requires in order to confidently invest in the future.”