How will the 2021 Budget impact construction?

On 3rd March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a Budget focused on green recovery, pledging investment in infrastructure and £126m for 40,000 traineeships.

The furlough and self-employment support schemes will be extended through September, and a new UK infrastructure bank will be created. Efforts will also be made to boost apprenticeships and meet net-zero commitments.

Budget 2021 highlights

A UK Infrastructure Bank, with £12bn in funding, will be set up to support net-zero efforts and “level up” Britain.

The furlough scheme, which pays 80% of wages for furloughed employees, will run till the end of September.

Businesses will be offered double the cash incentive to hire apprentices.

The Stamp Duty holiday will be extended to the end of June.

The new Help to Grow scheme will support “world-class” management training for SMEs.

The Help to Grow Digital scheme will offer free online tech advice and 50% discounts on productivity software to small businesses.

A new green savings bond will enable savers to help fight climate change.

Over £1bn will go to 45 new towns deals.

Funding will go to new port infrastructure to support offshore wind farm construction.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will set up an MMC Taskforce with £10m funding

A corporation tax hike to 25% is expected in 2023.

Construction industry response

Steve Radley, policy director at CITB, praised the boost to apprenticeships and traineeships, saying many employers wanted to take on apprentices but had been unable to afford to thanks to COVID. He called on the Government to quickly deliver on its funding pledge.

Mark Reynolds, Mace group CEO, hailed “very positive signs” for the construction industry in the 2021 budget, but echoed Radley in warning that funding needed to move quickly and the National Infrastructure Bank needed to be empowered to drive real change.

Henry South, London Belgravia Brokers’ head of construction insurance, was also positive, saying the budget had given UK construction “the tools to do what it does best” and to lead Britain’s economic recovery.

Sutcliffe director Sean Keyes expressed relief at the tax freezes and welcomed what he described as “the government’s drive to push construction”, especially in the residential and healthcare sectors.

Dave Sheridan, the executive chairman of ilke Homes, focused on the implications for a green recovery and said reaching net-zero would depend on a green skills base, which construction is currently lacking. He praised the increased funding for traineeships and apprenticeships as a vital step towards developing this.