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Alliance doubts Chancellor’s plans will work

The Modern Masonry Alliance believes Alistair Darling’s Pre-Budget Statement has missed a golden opportunity to help kick-start the UK construction industry.

“Two-and-a-half per cent off VAT will do next to nothing for the building materials industry,” says Mike Leonard, director of the MMA, which represents which represents the UK’S largest brick, block and mortar manufacturers.

“Enhancing the feel good factor to stimulate Christmas spending on the high street will be of greatest help to overseas producers who account for the majority of goods on sale in our non-food shops. This is the net result of the long-term destruction of our UK-based manufacturing industries.

“The Chancellor has missed a golden opportunity to make the right decisions in the interest of our long-term future. He has opted for what at best will prove a very short-term fix designed to boost short-term consumer spending and cover up the cracks in our crumbling economy.”

The Alliance had called for a cut in VAT to 5% two years on purchases of building materials and on the work carried out by professional tradespeople. Had that happened, Leonard says,” we could ‘Get Britain Building’ again, with homeowners more likely to invest for their future by extending and improving their homes. This would help to protect the livings of thousands of people engaged in the manufacture of building materials, merchanting and building. Improvements to our 24 million housing stock will also make a positive contribution to their environmental performance.”

“One of the first things to suffer when the lack of liquidity began to bite was the housing market and the supply chain that supports it. Already many thousands of jobs have been lost in this sector and everyone now knows that when the housing market declines the rest of economy begins to collapse!

“Once again the Chancellor has said he will bring forward money for social housing rather than find new funds. With just 5,000 NHBC registrations in October, we need more than just promises – we need a solid plan. We need new money now for social housing, pressure on the mortgage lenders to release funds and a further reduction in VAT for home improvements.”

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About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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