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Budget 2009: Missed opportunity for transport, says CECA

Today’s budget was branded a missed opportunity by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) after the chancellor ignored calls to invest unspent fiscal stimulus money in repair and maintenance work on the transport network.

CECA predicted that £300M of the £1bn fiscal stimulus package put forward at the time of the Pre Budget Report in November would not be spent in 2009 and urged the chancellor to immediately redirect the remaining £300M into repair and maintenance spending on roads with an additional £300M to be put forward from 2010 onwards to make up the future shortfall.

“Despite what appears to be good news for construction as the government has put forward a package of measures that may have a positive effect on house building and mortgage lending, the government missed an opportunity to target spending on transport repair and maintenance,” said CECA director Rosemary Beales.

“Putting the money that won’t be spent in 2009 on transport schemes in to repair and maintenance would have delivered workload in a struggling sector almost immediately. It is a huge shame that the chancellor did not take this opportunity to support civil engineering. Overall, the budget offers no new money for transport infrastructure. It is a huge shame that the chancellor did not take this opportunity to support civil engineering.”

However CECA welcomed the measures put forward in today’s Budget to support housing supply and extend the stamp duty holiday as well as the measures to boost energy infrastructure.

A £600M fund is aimed at unlocking stalled housing sites and delivering up to an additional 10,000 homes in England over the next 2 years, with £100M for local authorities to build new social housing at higher energy efficient standards. An extended Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday for residential properties up to £175,000 is designed to boost the mortgage market and help first time buyers.

Measures were also put forward to boost low carbon energy infrastructure and renewable energy projects.

“We hope that these measures amount to a boost for the construction industry,” said CECA director Rosemary Beales.

“We called on the chancellor to offer a range of measures to restore building development, ensure mortgage lending returns to sustainable levels and to kick start housing developments of all types. It remains to be seen if these measures will be enough to do this, despite the failure to restore empty property rate relief.”

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