Autumn Statement: Project firms have their say

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Posted by APM on 9th Dec 2013

Autumn StatementChancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement on Thursday 5th December, which included plans for the housing revenue accounts borrowing limit to rise by 300m.

The chancellor unveiled the Government hopes that 1bn in loans will boost housing developments in Manchester and Leeds, among other sites.

It was also announced that councils are to sell off the most expensive social housing and rundown urban housing estates for regeneration. Workers who live in council houses are to be given priority on housing lists if they need to move house.

Richard McCarthy, executive director of central government and housing, Capita property and infrastructure, said: Treating REITs as institutional investors and increasing local authority borrowing for affordable housing will make a welcome contribution to new housing supply.

In terms of infrastructure, tax allowances aiming to encourage investment in shale gas are to cut tax on early profits by 50 per cent. The chancellor also promised more investment in quantum technology, which involves attempting to apply the strange behaviour of materials on a tiny scale to practical purposes.

Head of power at Turner & Townsend Mike Piggott said: After several years of flirting, George Osborne is shouting his love for shale gas from the rooftops.

Such an attractive tax break for shale drillers, coupled with an earlier relaxation in planning restrictions, should persuade many of the energy companies who have been holding off on UK shale to take the plunge.

Details of the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) included plans for 375bn worth of investment in energy, transport, communications and water projects. It also featured a further 50m redevelopment of the railway station at Gatwick Airport, and road improvements to the A50 around Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, and the A14 around the port of Felixstowe, Suffolk.

Murray Rowden, managing director of Turner & Townsend, added: The Chancellor recognises the power of infrastructure to drive long-term economic growth, and trumpeted the fact that more money is being spent on capital projects than under the previous government.

While he clearly has a plan to boost infrastructure, he must also provide long-term stability and transparency both to attract private capital and spur the construction industry into building its capacity.

Ian Liddell, head of development at WSP, said: The reality is that you cant have houses without roads, water and energy supplies, so its extremely good news that the government will be funding infrastructure to unlock stalled development its something that has previously been a major barrier.

However, the devil is in the detail and what we really need is infrastructure investment to be aligned to development and the planning system to reflect the need to accelerate progress.

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