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A welcomed Autumn Statement retains flawed thinking on growth

The Chancellor’s 2022 Autumn Statement highlighted the impact of global events on inflation, which the OBR predicts to drop sharply in the middle of 2023, and set out the Government taxation and regulatory strategy to take the country out of recession. However, it was light on much needed supply reforms which has held the country back for more than two decades.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) said: “The Chancellor’s budget is a mixed bag for construction. Stamp duty cuts remain until 2025, red diesel access has not been reinstated but electric vehicles will lose zero rated road tax, energy independence has been made a priority, and investment zones may be watered down to focus on innovation, not placemaking.

However, two rabbits were pulled out of the hat, on which the NFB lobbied for. Capital and infrastructure budgets will be protected, and a new ‘Energy Efficiency Taskforce’ has been announced. These supply side strategies offer positive opportunities and work pipelines for construction, and we look forward to inputting into how an energy efficiency strategy can be sustained by business and consumers, rather than always requiring government funding.”

Despite highlighting that ‘infrastructure allows wealth and opportunity to spread across the nation’, committing to Sizewell C nuclear power thus giving investors certainty, citing a necessity for competition to break up monopolies, and championing a desire for skilled workers to mirror the achievements in Japan, Germany and Switzerland, the Chancellor did not focus on the need for wholesale planning reform as the underpinning factor for any economic and social recovery.

Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning for the NFB, said: “The planning process sustains our housing monopoly and strangles growth, which is why in places such as Japan and Germany, land use, regional planning, and permission certainty is a primary function of enabling opportunity. As well as ensuring businesses know there are commercial spaces, work pipelines, and regional strategies for them to invest in, their focus on planning certainty ensures places grow sustainably, housing supply keeps up with local demand and levelling up is a natural process, not reliant on taxpayer funding.

The Government needs to practice what it preaches because it has spent the last twelve years avoiding coherent planning reform and therefore missing out on sustained growth. Revering Singapore, Germany and Japan is no good if you aren’t willing to risk some political capital by enabling their core supply side

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