This was a budget that showed a government trying to paper over the cracks caused by the uncertainties of Brexit, so we see borrowing down but also poor growth.
The pre-announcement of the setting up a £28.8 billion fund to upgrade and maintain the country’s motorways and other major routes to run over five years, seems ambitious and with the immigration curbs caused by Brexit one wonders, where the labour to build, is to be sourced. Therefore a £650m boost for apprenticeships funded by SME’s is good news.
The announcement of £5.5bn to support the housing infrastructure fund was also welcome, made to coincide with the publication of the Letwin report and it was good to see him debunk the myth of land banking. The Chancellor also promises to help simplify the conversion of commercial properties into residential housing which is helpful as new build commercial is slowing due to concerns over Brexit being shown by private developers.
There was also some necessary news regarding assistance with business rates which is helpful if not game changing. So against a backdrop of poor growth and the sword of Damocles’ that is Brexit this was not a dramatic budget but there was good news for our sector in roads, training and housing but as with all budgets the devil is in the detail.