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Duncan Green, managing partner at the property and construction consultancy Pick Everard, reacting to today’s Autumn Budget said:

“Today saw the first Autumn Budget announced by Phillip Hammond and the emphasis was very much on looking to the future. Crucially for the construction industry, Mr Hammond has announced a couple of key changes and funding commitments which are considered to improve skills and training and promote infrastructure projects to support the promised 300,000 new homes per year due to be delivered.

“Firstly, it was announced that the government will invest a further £20 million to support teachers preparing for the implementation of T Levels, which were announced during the Spring Budget.

“At Pick Everard, we are committed to ensuring an equal gender representation across disciplines and the lack of women in the industry is an issue which, I believe, needs to be tackled. The disproportionate number of girls taking A Level STEM courses was also acknowledged today. A large emphasis will now be placed on encouraging more students to take maths at A Level, with additional funding announced to support maths and technical training, additional funding for schools to encourage more students to take maths and the opening of maths schools.

“I believe these to be positive steps for the construction industry but there were no specific details given with regards to the apprenticeship levy. I believe that apprenticeships are crucial to the future of our industry and training needs to remain a top priority if we’re to see real change in the UK’s infrastructure - working closely with employers to establish how best to spend this effectively needs to be prioritised.

“In terms of infrastructure, Mr Hammond began by stating that this government was committed to ‘the biggest rail programme since the Victorian era, biggest road programme since the 1970s and two of the largest infrastructure programmes in Europe in HS2 and Crossrail’. The country’s rail networks were discussed at length but I don’t feel that enough was covered in terms of road links outside of the newly announced garden city due to break ground in the Cambridge/Milton Keynes/Oxford corridor.

“I’m pleased to see that £1.7 billion has been committed to the Transforming Cities Fund to improve transport connections, along with fibre optic broadband investment across the UK. There was also discussion of devolved powers and ensuring an equal spread of wealth – not holding it in the capital - and the announcement of five more garden towns would appear to be a good first step.

“Brexit still leaves a big question mark over the construction industry’s future but, since the referendum, confidence in the market has slowly started to return so I hope that government intervention will improve the training made available for the next generation of property professionals and sufficiently prepare us for Britain’s exit.” 


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