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Forever Autumn

I shall desire and I shall find
The best of my desires;
The autumn road, the mellow wind
That soothes the darkening shires.

What can we expect from the Santa Osborne’s Autumn Statement this afternoon then?

A)The answers to all our problems,

B) Not much apart from the same old spin

C) The same old spin but with the added caveat that we’ve all been very bad this year and therefore we’re just going to have to put up with more cuts and spending restrictions until we learn to control ourselves and stop throwing money around on things we don’t need. Like heat, transport, food, clothing, snow shovels (in Kent this morning anyway).

According to reports from the ONS or whoever decides these things, the UK came out of recession a few months ago. Well someone forgot to tell the construction industry.

That’s according to the latest CIPS/Markit figures which tell a worrying tale, although they have, at times, been at odds with other figures.

There has been some encouraging noises coming from the Government – Deputy PM Nick Clegg’s announcement of the £225m for housing will help, for starters and even DECC has managed to find some money down the back of the departmental sofa to promote the Green Deal.

However, much of the talk has been of larger, infrastructure projects. All very well and good, but a)these take forever for the spend to filter down to the merchants and contractors and b) so far it’s all talk and no action.

The CPA has pointed out this week, however, that, as well as big capital infrastructure projects, the Government must turn its thoughts to smaller, more immediate projects – what chief executive Dr Diana Montgomery yesterday called ‘shovel-ready projects’, probably RMI, which will bring more immediate, useful spend to the supply chain.

Much of the Statement has been leaked already so there probably won’t be too many surprises and, I dare say, not much in the way of comfort for construction either.

Still, at least we’ve got the huge opportunities thrown up with the magnificently organised initiative that is the Green Deal to make up for the slowdown elsewhere. Oh.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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