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CEA reacts to Budget

by Kyle Molyneux  |  Wed 11 Mar 2020

CEA reacts to Budget

Rishi Sunak’s first budget statement was rightly underpinned by action to address coronavirus crisis concerns – something that has an immediate effect on lives and livelihoods, writes Rob Oliver, Chief Executive of the Construction Equipment Association. Beyond this there were some good and bad aspects for the construction industry.

The estimated one million small businesses that serve the UK construction industry will receive some welcome short term relief on sick pay obligations and business interruption loans. We don’t yet know, of course, if this will in any way compensate for the possible scale of business disruption over the next few months.

The announcement of £27 billion of investment in the country’s strategic roads network was most welcome – and we will look forward to seeing the detail of this. In his closing remarks, the Chancellor recognised that there was more work to do on the national infrastructure strategy. As recently witnessed over the legal block to the Heathrow expansion, the government refused to support a key infrastructure project.The full promised investment could get delayed or watered down by planning or court constraints unless government really commits. A good opportunity to “get it done”.

The Chancellor was entirely selective with his statistics in suggesting that off-road red diesel users were responsible for 10% of air pollutants. Ironically, motor vehicles, as the much bigger polluters, will face no tax hike and drivers will continue to pay about 10% less for their fuel compared to the start of the year. The CEA is justifiably proud that its members have reduced harmful engine emissions by over 90%, which coupled with improved fuel consumption is a “green” success.

Government has promised to consult on the application of this tax change and the CEA looks forward to being part of this process, particularly in support of plant hire companies and contractors who will be alongside us in delivering the promised infrastructure revolution.   

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