Chancellor George Osborne's 2015 Budget could be his last in light of the upcoming General Election, and so he made a range of commitments designed to boost the UK economy, including those affecting the construction industry.
Firstly, Osborne (pictured) confirmed the introduction of designated housing zones across the country. Those areas designated as housing zones will benefit from access to a proportion of the £200 million investment available from the government, as well as cheaper borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board, and being prioritised to receive planning and technical support from the ATLAS service run by the Homes & Communities Agency.
Next up, a host of flood prevention schemes have been brought forward. The projects that will begin work earlier than previously announced, totalling £140 million of the £2.3 billion pledged over six years, are in Yorkshire, the North West and the South East.
More local projects were given the go ahead during Osborne's 2015 Budget, including the development of a new garden city in Ebbsfleet, Kent. The Chancellor announced that work on the site will begin in April, which is expected to deliver around 15,000 initially.
In helping those first-time buyers wanting to get on the property ladder, a new Help-to-Buy ISA was announced. The scheme will allow buyers' savings to receive a boost of up to 25 per cent. In figures, this means that for every £200 saved, the government will top this up by £50.
The construction industry will also be able to benefit from the new digital apprenticeship vouchers, which will allow employers to take control of apprenticeship funding. The vouchers will be given to employers who will then be able to use them at their desired training provider. These can then be exchanged with the government for the value of the voucher.
In the budget the Chancellor also touched on the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) by saying “I am clear from my conversations with business groups that a reduction to £25,000 would not be remotely acceptable – and so it will be set at a much more generous rate.” This sounds encouraging but it relies on the Conservatives getting back into power and he didn’t say what he would change it to. His comments can be interpreted that the AIA may still drop but nobody knows when or by how much. Clarity should be forthcoming at the next Autumn Statement in December or following an emergency budget when a new government is formed. To read more on the AIA and how this can possibly lead to signifcant tax savings for your business see our useful guide .