IHBC’s COVID-19 signpost 1: Budget and COVID 19, via DBW

On 11 March 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, presented his budget to parliament and, coming in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, it offered a package of measures to support the economy, all reviewed below via Designing Buildings Wiki (DBW), the platform for the IHBC’s Conservation Wiki.

DBW writes:

The budget itself was also dominated by last-minute changes in response to Covid-19. £30bn of temporary emergency measures included:

  • Statutory sick pay for those advised to self-isolate.
  • Suspension of business rates for firms in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value below £51,000.
  • A £500m hardship fund to help vulnerable people in their areas.
  • A coronavirus business interruption loan scheme.
  • The government will meet the costs of coronavirus statutory sick pay for businesses with fewer than 250 employees.
  • Those on in-work benefits will be able to claim from day one if they become ill.

Other announcements with an impact on the construction industry included:

  • Housing and infrastructure: ‘If the country needs it, we will build it’.
  • A £27 billion investment in strategic roads between 2020 and 2025.
  • Funding for a Shared Rural Network agreement to improve mobile coverage in rural areas.
  • £5.2 billion for flood defences between 2021 and 2027.
  • A £10.9 billion increase in housing investment to support the commitment to build at least 1 million new homes by the end of the Parliament.
  • £1.5 billion over five years to refurbish further education colleges.
  • A further £9.5 billion for the Affordable Homes Programme.
  • An additional £1 billion to remove unsafe cladding from residential buildings above 18 metres.


  • A Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Infrastructure Fund to establish CCS in at least two UK sites, one by the mid-2020s, a second by 2030.
  • Investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to ensure drivers are never more than 30 miles from a rapid charging station.
  • £532 million of consumer incentives for ultra-low emission vehicles, and reduced taxes on zero emission vehicles.
  • Scrapping tax relief on read diesel from April 2022.
  • £304 million to help local authorities reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions and improve air quality.
  • Introducing a Plastic Packaging Tax.
  • Planting enough trees to cover an area the size of Birmingham.


  • A new £2.5 billion National Skills Fund to improve adult skills.
  • Reviewing the Green Book, which sets out how decisions on major investment programmes are appraised, to make sure government investment spreads across the UK.
  • Plans to increase public R&D investment to £22 billion per year by 2024-25.
  • It had been expected that the budget would be accompanied by the publication of a National Infrastructure Strategy, but the budget simply stated that this would be published ‘later in the Spring’.

Ref https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/budget-2020-documents


Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at UKGBC said: ‘Unfortunately, notably absent from the budget documents are the Government’s three biggest manifesto promises on energy efficiency: The social housing decarbonisation fund, Home Upgrade Grants and the Public Sector Decarbonisation scheme.’

Brian Berry, chief executive at the Federation of Master Builders said: ‘Understandably, the chancellor has delivered a ‘first aid Budget’ to overcome the short-term crisis caused by Covid-19. But he has missed an important opportunity to announce interventions that would support the sustainable, long-term recovery construction needs.’

Steve Radley, CITB Policy Director said: ‘The promised investment will create the need for tens of thousands more workers in Britain’s construction sector. This will require a major upturn in the number of apprentices and trainees; government will need to work closely with industry to deliver this. The huge pipeline of work will provide a unique opportunity for government to drive modernisation in how we build, encouraging the adoption of Modern Methods of Construction that will improve productivity in a much tighter labour market.’

Eddie Tuttle, director for policy, research & public affairs at the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) said: ‘Given today’s Budget announcements we encourage government to work closely with the construction industry in order to produce a clearer vision and a smarter, more focussed, attention from policy makers to ensure the industry continues to thrive in a more conducive environment.’

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