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Budget Box 2017 The Spring Budget included a few specific measures that will be welcomed by the construction industry. In particular the Chancellor announce including funding for a further 110 free schools and the allocation of £220 million to tackle pinch-points in the across the national road network, including £103 million for schemes in the midlands and the north of England. The Government has released the specific project details on where half of the funds will be spent. This includes 2 larger projects, worth £30 million, which will create an unbroken stretch of dual carriageway on the A69 between Hexham and Newcastle. A further £14 million will go towards creating a new junction on the M11 to provide another route into Harlow, cutting journey times as well as unlocking housing developments However, the upgrading of the growth forecast for the UK economy to 2% in 2017 was probably the most encouraging element of the Chancellor’s speech for the industry. Historically, a minimum of 2% growth in the wider economy has been a pre-requisite for industry output growth. The upgrade forecasts reflects the continued strength of consumer spending and bodes well for sectors such as private housing. Labour supply and skill shortages have long been a major concern for the construction; an issue that has been thrown into sharper relief following the Brexit vote and uncertainty over the future availability of EU workers. The Government’s efforts to raise the status of vocational training, with the introduction of T-Levels, are a welcome step towards tackling this long term issue.

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