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Construction Budget Boost



The chancellor has delivered his 2014 Budget statement and here are some key indicators for the Built Environment, courtesy of Construction News.

Housing:

The government will consult on a new Right to Build giving custom builders a right to a plot from councils and test the operation of this approach with vanguard local authorities. The government will also create a £150 million repayable loan scheme to provide up to 10,000 serviced plots, and will look to extend the Help to Buy: equity loan scheme to cover custom build.

A £500m Builders’ Finance Fund, to provide loans to developers to unlock 15,000 housing units stalled due to difficulty in accessing finance

The government will introduce a £150 million fund to kick start regeneration of social housing estates through repayable loans.

It will consult on creating a new Right to Build policy for people who want to build their own homes as well as the creation of a £150m fund for custom build. The £150m repayable fund will help provide up to 10,000 serviced plots for custom build.

The government is also consulting on ways to make the Help to Buy scheme available for custom build.

Planning:

A new Planning Court will be launched on 6 April 2014 to fast-track disputes, including big construction projects.

Proposals will be developed for extending the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Barking Riverside, and to ensure that any public investment unlocks the construction of up to 11,000 new homes.

Proposals to be examined for the Brent Cross regeneration scheme, subject to value for money and affordability. The government will also publish a prospectus by Easter 2014, setting out how local authorities could develop their own, locally-led proposals for bringing forward new garden cities.

It will review the General Permitted Development Order. The refreshed approach is based on a three-tier system to decide the appropriate level of permission, using permitted development rights for small-scale changes, prior approval rights for development requiring consideration of specific issues, and planning permission for the largest scale development.

As part of this, the government will consult on specific change of use measures, including greater flexibilities for change to residential use, for example from warehouses and light industry structures, and allowing businesses greater flexibilities to expand facilities such as car parks and loading bays within existing boundaries, where there is little impact on local communities.

Availability of business rate discounts and Enhanced Capital Allowances will each be extended by three years as an incentive for new and expanding businesses to locate in Enterprise Zones

Infrastructure:

Confirmation of a £270m UK Guarantee for the Mersey Gateway, first revealed by Construction News in June 2013.

The government will provide an additional £200m in 2014-15 to set up a potholes challenge fund to increase further the amount local authorities spend on maintaining the local road network. This includes an allocation to devolved administrations.

It will increase funding by £140 million over 2014-15 and 2015-16 to repair and maintain flood defences.

Apprenticeships:

The government will provide an extra £85m in 2014/15 and 2015/16 for more than 100,000 apprenticeship grants to employers under the Apprenticeship Grants for Employers scheme.

Tax and employment:

Government will consult in summer 2014 on options to improve the operation of the CIS for smaller businesses and to introduce mandatory on-line filing for contractors. The government will also hold discussions with industry on revisions to reporting obligations and improvements in registration for joint ventures.

It will press ahead with amendments to employment legislation to prevent “false self-employment”. From April 2014 intermediaries, in most cases, will be required to operate PAYE and National Insurance on the payments they make.

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