Budget 2012: As it happened

Full round up of reaction to George Osborne’s budget

5.15 - Budget tea-time summary

Here’s a round-up in case you haven’t been following today’s events. In general reaction from the construction sector has been fairly muted – no horrible shocks so far, but little of much substance to add to what Cameron set out on Monday. The construction industry likes the direction but wants more detail in order to know if the government’s aspirations will be delivered.

The main points are:

4.51

 

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said:

On corporation tax:

“The additional cut in the headline rate of corporation tax will help make the UK a more attractive place for companies to invest, do business and create jobs. It puts a rate of twenty per cent within our reach.”

On changes to the 50p tax rate:

“Reducing the 50p income tax rate will send a clear signal that the UK is open for business. We must continue to encourage top talent to live and work in the UK.”

On oil and gas tax relief, including for decommissioning oil rigs:

“Today’s announcements will give more certainty around decommissioning and new field allowances. This will unlock investment and help ensure our security of energy supply.

“Companies will now look forward to seeing the detail of the gas generation strategy which must join the dots on the Government’s approach to energy generation and act as a positive signpost to investors.”

On measures to support small and mid-sized businesses:

“We need to find new alternatives to bank lending so that small and medium-sized businesses can grow and create jobs.

“The Business Finance Partnership is an innovative way of matching previously untapped private finance with demand. Doubling the incentive under the enterprise management scheme will enable entrepreneurial, high-risk companies to motivate their staff. Increasing the government’s risk sharing under the Enterprise Finance Guarantee will make banks more able to boost small business lending.”

On deregulation:

“Businesses, especially smaller ones, will be disappointed that the Chancellor did not do more to cut red tape. There needs to be much greater urgency to the Government’s deregulatory agenda. We must bring down the barriers to companies hiring staff and creating new jobs.”

On the Carbon Reduction Commitment:

“The Government is wasting time by announcing yet another consultation on the Carbon Reduction Commitment, rather than getting on with scrapping this complex and bureaucratic scheme.”

On carbon price floor:

“The 33% rise in the carbon price floor will hit UK energy-intensive businesses hard, and underlines the need for a more coherent strategy to unlock low-carbon industrial growth.

“In the meantime, we urgently need support to those companies most at risk from the increase.”

On planning:

“The National Planning Policy Framework, and in particular the presumption in favour of sustainable development, will help to give businesses confidence to invest in critical local infrastructure when it is launched next week.

“The new planning framework should encourage local authorities to help boost growth while striking the right balance with social and environmental sustainability.”

On Enterprise Zones:

“The new Enterprise Zones announced today will help support greater economic activity right across the UK. These new zones will encourage investment and give business a strong incentive to expand activity creating jobs in parts of the country that need them most.”


4.43

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) welcomed some of the measures for business in the chancellor’s Budget Statement, but expressed serious concerns about the missed opportunities for using housing and construction to stimulate growth, particularly around stamp duty relief, the Get Britain Building scheme, VAT on domestic energy efficient installations and lending to construction SMEs.

On Stamp Duty: Stamp duty relief, introduced in the 2010 Budget to give first-time buyers a step onto the property ladder, is being allowed to lapse.

Julia Evans, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, said: “By refusing to renew this relief, at a time when many are struggling to get on the housing ladder, the chancellor has effectively knocked out a step from beneath them.

“It is of no comfort for first time buyers that the chancellor is getting tougher on stamp duty avoidance among top earners, when for average earners stamp duty forms yet another barrier to buying their own home.

“A recent upturn in sales has been partly driven by people looking to take advantage of the concession and there is a fear that its abolition will lead to a slump in sales in an already fragile market. Given this risk and the fact that any increase in revenues to the Treasury is likely to be very modest, it is disappointing that the chancellor has chosen not to renew this relief.”

On Get Britain Building:The chancellor repeated the government’s £420 million investment to keep the big builders building, adding £150 million to the fund.

Evans said: “The Get Britain Building scheme, which was designed to help unlock stalled sites of all sizes, has directed 40% of the fund to the large housebuilders which, judging from the financial results of some of the volume builders, are much less in need of funding than the smaller, lower-volume builders.

“The government’s focus on SMEs as a driver for economic growth does not appear to extend to housebuilding where schemes from the Homes and Communities Agency, which administers public money, favour the larger players.”

On VAT: Currently, a reduced rate of 5% VAT applies to the installation of some energy saving materials and micro-generation systems which will be eligible for Green Deal financing, but not to others, leading to unnecessary complexity and perverse incentives.

Evans said: “It is particularly disappointing that an opportunity was missed to harmonise VAT rates on the domestic energy efficiency installation, ahead of the Green Deal launch later this year.

“Reducing all energy efficiency measures to the lower rate of 5% would have been consistent with the government’s drive towards harmonising and simplifying the tax system, while at the same time acting to stimulate the market ahead of the Green Deal’s introduction later this year.

“Moves to simplify and harmonise our hugely complex tax system are to be welcomed, but harmonisation that only ever goes one way, is just another word for a tax rise.”

On lending: The real question on the £20bn National Loan Guarantee Scheme fund is whether it will simply enable SMEs already at the front of the queue to get cheaper loans (welcome as this is), or whether it will also support otherwise perfectly viable SMEs in sectors like construction, deemed toxic by the banks.

Evans said: “Lending to the construction sector remains depressed and construction SMEs find themselves at the back even of the SME queue. We hope that the scheme succeeds in its aims, but see no indication that it will. It also amounts to a significant admission of failure on the government’s part as it has already introduced mechanisms such as Project Merlin and the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme, designed to encourage the banks to lend to viable businesses. These schemes should have met the needs of businesses had the banks delivered on them, but they failed.”

4.42

RIBA Head of External Affairs Anna Scott-Marshall said:

“The 2012 Budget underlines the importance of new development and infrastructure in kick-starting growth in the economy. City Deals, the introduction of TIF and the expansion of Enterprise Zones could equip cities with the necessary tools to help them develop and grow.

“Whilst the RIBA welcomes the additional funding for the Get Britain Building scheme, we urge the Government to ensure that developers and developments selected for funding meet the highest quality credentials so homebuyers benefit as well as house builders.

“We look forward to seeing the details of the NPPF when it is published and comes into force next week”  

4.40

Mark Stewart, partner, EC Harris Energy Sector said:

Paving the way for a Pipeline of Gas?

“Whilst the chancellor did not keep his promise from the previous Budget to adjust the carbon price support rates, what he did do was pave the way for thermal and gas to continue to take the lead when it comes to energy security in the UK.

“With combined heat and power plants not liable to the carbon price floor tax, the door is open for new build plants to progress and alongside this, a green light was also given to gas with the recognition that ‘gas is cheap’, a clear sign that it will be playing a role in UK energy mix for quite a while. We await further detail in the Autumn on what the new Strategy for Gas Generation will entail as the government strives to use the nations natural resources to keep the lights on.

“With the announcement of a potential alternative environmental tax, abolishment of the Carbon Reduction Commitment could be on the horizon and if so it will be interesting to see if this does indeed bring with it more transparency and a simplified process to help companies comply.

What about Renewables?

“It was also clear that UK energy policy appears to focus on ‘cost’. What this means for the renewables industry, especially offshore wind, is that cutting costs is key if these forms of energy are to become a viable area for investment both for the government but also for the private sector.

“The Renewables industry will be hurting from this budget and will be feeling left out, with little or no reference to the expected support they were seeking and also need. It leaves a challenge for the industry to reduce cost in line with other generation technologies and by finding a way to address this, they may attempt to turn the chancellor’s head as he did announce that he will be ‘staying alert to the cost of renewables’. The door remains open but there’s clearly work to be done.

4.38

Mark Prior, Head of Transportation, EC Harris said:

“The positive news from today’s Budget was the confirmation that talks are ongoing with a dozen pension funds and the commitment to streamline the UK’s onerous planning process and remove many of the barriers that make it so difficult to get ‘spades in the ground.’

“However, across each of the transportation sectors further detail is needed on the progress that has been made since last November and on how the projects outlined in the National Infrastructure Plan will begin to move forward over the coming months.

“The main news to emerge from the Chancellor’s address was a renewed focus on improving the rail network in the North of England. The move to create new rail links between Manchester and other cities across Lancashire and Yorkshire is welcome and will help to address the previous lack of investment within this part of the UK.

“This focus on better rail links aligns with the government’s previous assertion that investment in rail can help to underpin the wider growth agenda by creating jobs and facilitating better trade links.

“Earlier this month the Secretary of State for Transport issued a new directive for rail policy following the end of the consultation on the findings from the McNulty review and whilst no additional detail was added to this, the Chancellor did allude to a new Transport strategy that will be launched by Justine Greening later this summer. This report should offer some insight into how big schemes such as Crossrail and HS2 will come together with the expansion of the Northern Hub to form an integrated UK rail network.”

4.36

Stephen Hollowood, Senior Director at GVA said more radical initiatives needed and more clarity on policy was required.

He said: “The Government’s drive to support infrastructure initiatives is positive. Economic growth and improving infrastructure are intrinsically linked so it was reassuring to hear. The package to unlock £1.2 billion of investment into Manchester was encouraging, and we welcome the additional £270 million within the Growing Places Fund.

“However we don’t feel the Chancellor has fully considered the importance of providing stimulus to trigger wider development which is vital to the growth of the economy. We would urge Government to open serious positive discussion with other cities regarding similar deals to drive infrastructure provision and thereby encourage economic growth

“Nor has the Chancellor considered the importance of smaller projects to drive growth. We can not rest on our laurels by solely supporting flagship schemes. Cities must positively promote, as part of a comprehensive strategy, local development and infrastructure using new powers under the Localism Act and funding mechanisms in the Local Government Finance Bill to build upon these larger, catalytic schemes.

“The Chancellor touched on its planning reforms and gave final confirmation that it would be presented on Tuesday. The principles of the NPPF should be applauded. However while simplification of the planning system is needed, it is the lack of finance and appropriate levels of funding that continues to be the biggest obstacle. No matter how simple the planning system becomes that will not itself spark development and regeneration. Developers are crying out for access to finance on appropriate, commercially viable terms.

“The proposal to sell major new trunk roads and motorways to private sector investors to finance infrastructure improvements is an interesting proposal given the state of our public finances, and I look forward to reviewing the details. However our concerns over where the Government intends to source the money from to finance this initiative still stands. It mentioned twelve pension funds as a potential source. We need clarity on how this initiave should be delivered, if improvements in the growth of the national economy are not to be held back.”

4.11

Dan Labbad, chief executive of Lend Lease in Britain, said: “The Government’s clearly understands that investing in major infrastructure projects creates more jobs and more growth.”

“The priority now should be to bring more of the schemes in the National Infrastructure Plan forward as quickly as possible. Progress on delivering the pipeline is still too slow and there is not enough visibility on what schemes will be going out to tender and when.”  

“It is also essential that a successor to PFI is formulated quickly. Enabling major infrastructure projects which would otherwise be postponed or not built at all is a key area where decisive Government action could make a significant difference.”

3.53

The Construction Products Association said the budget would not bring any significant short term benefit to a construction industry forecast to see output fall by 5% this year.

Chief executive Michael Ankers said that while the government clearly recognised the constraints on economic growth imposed by the poor quality of the nation’s planning and infrastructure system, there was some way to go before the benefits of planning reform and private finance for roads were realised.

“We welcome the direction of travel set by this budget, and the various announcements to support housing, rail investment, and development,” he said.

“But construction is facing a very difficult 12 to 18 months and these will not do much to change this.

“What we would have liked to see is some of the additional savings made on current spending reinvested in capital projects that will not only provide a more competitive business environment for all businesses, but also create jobs throughout the economy.

‘It was particularly disappointing that the government once again failed to do anything to encourage investment in improving the energy investment in buildings, and the budget seems to have been developed in a vacuum as far as their claims to be the ‘greenest government ever’ are concerned.”

3.42

Richard Steer, chairman of construction consultants Gleeds Worldwide, said that as the budget’s contents had been heavily leaked the chancellor’s speech contained “no real surprises”.

“We should welcome enhanced rail investment for the civil engineering sector and some promised help for housing,” he said.

“The cut in corporation tax looks good but [the chancellor] is still reducing tax allowances you get on purchasing plant, equipment and property - so [it’s a] typical ‘take with one hand and give with the other’ budget. Also, the allowance system is still horrendously complicated for those in business.

“Sadly there has once again been little or no real stimulus for the Green Economy. This was a missed opportunity.”

3.35

Richard Threlfall, head of infrastructure, building and construction at KPMG, said that while infrastructure remained at the top of the political agenda in the budget, Manchester appeared to be the day’s biggest winner.

“Under the agreement with the Treasury, as the Manchester economy grows and generates additional taxes a proportion of these taxes can be used on local Manchester transport projects,” he said.

“The city will reclaim £30 million a year from the Treasury and reinvest it in further infrastructure development, which could include new roads or light rail extensions. Manchester is the first city to secure such a deal and can we confidently predict the UK’s other major cities rapidly forming a queue at the Treasury’s door.”

3.30

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering said the expansion of the Northern Hub rail programme and the development of ultra-fast broadband over 10 years could prove crucial to the economy.

Chief executive Nelson Ogunshakin said the decisions demonstrated the government had listened to industry and recognised infrastructure was a key driver of growth and employment.

“We must now see these announcements translate into delivery on the ground,” he said.

3.22

British Property Federation director of finance Peter Cosmetatos said the £150m being made available for core cities’ Tax Increment Financing (TIF) projects from 2013-14 seemed like “very small beer” after years of preparatory work about the potential growth that such an instrument could bring.

“What isn’t clear is whether the £150m referred to represents the capital sum which can be invested in enabling infrastructure, or the element of total annual business rates revenues that the government is happy to see funding the annual financing cost of such investment,” he said.

“If it’s the latter, that would mean more could be invested in infrastructure.

“It’s also disappointing that, 18 months after TIF was announced as government policy, we have yet to see any detail about how it will work, and we are only promised details ‘in the coming months’ about how the government will decide which schemes get the go-ahead.”

3.14

SmartNewHomes director Steven Lees echoed sentiment that failing to extend the Stamp Duty holiday for first-time buyers on properties priced under £250,000 was a missed opportunity, and said it was a move that housbuilders would have to compensate for.

“Approximately 150,000 new buyers benefitted from the tax break since the holiday began two years ago, which has enabled transactions all the way up the chain and helped keep the market moving,” he said.

“We expect to see many more housebuilders stepping into the fold, continuing the Stamp Duty holiday and reducing costs as much as possible for first time buyers.”

3.08

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said the National Loan Guarantee Scheme, more money for the Get Britain Building Fund and streamlining the planning system would all help combat growing scepticism in the construction sector and the view that SMEs were being squeezed.  

But he added that introducing a new rate of Stamp Duty was a poor alternative to reforming the whole system on the part of Chancellor George Osborne.

“By replacing the slab structure with a marginal system, he could have ensured that those at the top end of the market contribute fairly as well as helping those struggling to get onto the property ladder,” he said.  

“London is still the only region where more surveyors are reporting price rises than falls reflecting the growing north/south divide.  

“Whilst credit-easing and the Get Britain Building Fund will take effect immediately, other initiatives like infrastructure development will take longer to feed through.  

“RICS would have liked to have seen a reduction in VAT to 5% on all home, maintenance and repair work and a reinstatement of empty property rate relief up to £18,000 as immediate measures to generate jobs and growth now.”

2.59

Federation of Master Builders chief executive Brian Berry lamented the chancellor’s failure to do more to restore customer confidence and spending in ways that could support the sector.

“Construction SMEs need measures to reverse the contraction in the housing sector output before they can increase employment opportunities,” he said.

“The government believes people are always looking to invest in their homes even in times of austerity, but back in December just 5% of construction SMEs expected work in the private housing repair, maintenance and improvement sector to pick up in 2012.

“Despite this we are still waiting for details of how the £200 million Green Deal incentive fund will help boost early take up of the Green Deal finance packages.

“The chancellor also missed an opportunity when streamlining VAT to include a lower rate of VAT for Green Deal, which would be a useful incentive.

“Homeowners and landlords need to know, just as much as the industry, what the total benefits will be of signing up for a Green Deal loan attached to their property. ”

2.52

British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation praised the announcement of a review to reduce the burden of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRCEEES).

“We would urge Government to rantionalise the fiscal element of the CRCEES and the Climate Change Levy into a simple retrospective tax on the carbon associated with building energy consumption,” she said.

“The price of carbon under this tax could be set in consultation with the Committee on Climate Change.

“The implications of this proposal would be that much of the administrative burden associated with the scheme would be reduced. This approach would also ensure that participants are not required to make crude estimates of the number of allowances required in advance.”

2.39

Campaign for Better Transport chief executive Stephen Joseph welcomed the Northern Hub rail upgrades but slammed planning reforms and the anticipated new toll roads as bad for growth and the environment.

“The chancellor’s continued support for toll roads and planning deregulation will lead to precisely the ‘car-dominated concrete grids’ that the prime minister denounced on Monday,” he said.

“Road schemes, such as the Bexhill Hastings Link Road approved today, will simply generate traffic. 

“This budget was meant to set Britain on the road to recovery, but the concrete and congestion on offer from the chancellor will do nothing to solve the real problems in the economy.”

2.34

On the announcement that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will come into effect next Tuesday, a spokesman for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, says: “We heard yet more of the chancellor’s misguided and dangerous rhetoric on planning today. We will have to wait until next Tuesday when the final planning framework is to be published to see if the voices of reason in government will yet win out.

“From the chancellor’s words we fear the longstanding protection for the wider countryside will be abandoned. On the basis of the budget statement, the government’s promise that the planning reforms are about empowering local people looks very hollow indeed.”

Faraz Baber, London First director for policy, says: “The chancellor said that the NPPF will be introduced with immediate effect. The question is whether that means there will be no transitional period in which local authorities can bring their plans up to date. Local authorities will feel at risk if they have outdated plans, but they have had since 2004 to get their plans in place.

“They will however need resources to allow them to deal with the responsibilities that the NPPF, the community infrastructure levy and neighbourhood planning will bring. It’s important that the government comes forward with a decision about whether to let councils set their own planning fees. The private sector needs to be able feel confident that the public sector has the resources to deliver for them.”

Richard Ford, head of planning at law firm Pinsent Masons, says: “Clearly we await to see the detail of what ‘coming into force immediately’ means. The presumption in favour of sustainable development and large parts of the NPPF may come into force immediately, but other parts could be subject to transitional provisions to give local authority local plans and neighbourhood plans a little breathing space. We will have to see if this is a bit of spin or not”.

2.30

Network Rail chief executive David Higgins said the confirmation of £130m in funding for the Northern Hub project was “a welcome show of confidence in rail”.

He said the funding would cover the restoration and improvement of Manchester’s Victoria Station, provide some 700 extra trains a day, and allow for the doubling of capacity into the Trafford Park freight terminals.

“The Northern Hub will bring £4bn worth of benefits to the region and could create 20,000 to 30,000 jobs,” he said.

“Including the costs of the new trains this is a return of £4 for every £1 invested.”

2.12

Scottish Building Federation chief executive Michael Levack said it was “highly regrettable” that the Scottish Government’s pleas for £300m in funding for shovel-ready infrastructure projects had been ignored.

 “We believe this additional funding could potentially have boosted direct employment in the construction industry alone by up to almost 5,000 jobs,” he said.

“There are some interesting ideas coming forward about leveraging private sector investment into road-building and other major infrastructure improvements in the future. But no sign in this budget of the immediate support the construction industry needs to get itself - and the wider economy - back on its feet.”

2.06

Nicholas Leeming, business development director at property website Zoopla.co.uk, said that while it was difficult to argue against a clamp-down on Stamp Duty avoidance, policing it would be difficult.
He added that ending the Stamp Duty holiday for first-time buyers threw “another obstacle onto the tracks” for people looking to take a first step onto the property ladder at a time when other factors preventing a surge of new buyers were starting to ease.

1.31

That’s me out - i have to write it all up for the magazine now! Initial reaction is that Osborne genuinely had much of his thunder stolen by the leaks in previous days - the speech clearly was supposed to build toward the 50p tax announcement. But, as ever, there’s plenty in it for everyone, and the devil will be in the detail of the budget documents. I’m handing over to my colleague Jim Dunton now, so keep emails and thoughts coming in.

1.30

Osborne says this last move takes two million out of tax altoghether. Osborne summing up now “we’ve tackled the problems head on - no do nothing budget. Together the British people will share in the effort and the rewards. This country borrowed its way in to trouble, and now we’re going to earn our way out.”

1.29

Personal allowance. “The best way to get money in to the pockets of those on the lowest incomes is to take them out of tax altogether”. The largest ever increase in the personal allowance - to increase by £1,100. People can earn over £9,000 before paying any tax. “millions of working people will be £220 better off every year”

1.27

Now child benefit: benefit will be withdrawn when one income is over £50k, and the withdrawal will be gradual.

1.24

50p rate, above the 45p rate raises just £100m, “a fraction of what told, maybe nothing at all,” according to Osborne. 50p will be reduced to 45p, as expected. Osborne says: “We’ll be getting five times more money from the wealthiest in our society under today’s changes.”

1.23

Report on evidence of the 50p tax rate. Osborne says 50p rate caused massive distortion. £16bn of income was deliberately shifted into the previous tax year. Only £1bn of the £3bn promised was raised.

1.22

Income tax rate of 50%. Osborne says it is the highest in the G20. “widely recognised as harming the British economy.”

1.20

As expected SDLT rate for properties will be moved to over £2m of 7%

1.19

Capital gains tax on properties held in residential envelopes. “if you buy a property in Britain we will expect stamp duty to be paid. You have been warned.”

1.19

A general anti-avoidance rule will be introduced. Consult on the details. Including stamp duty. Private companies selling homes over £2m will be charged at 15%

1.17

Here’s the personal taxation part - firstly anti-avoidance measures. Osborne: “I regard tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance as morally repugnant.”

1.15

No changes on fuel duty - continuing

1.13

Sorry technical difficulties here - have a feeling i may have missed the announcement regarding the cut of the 50p rate for high earners to 45p. Am checking. on to usual fags and alcohol section…

1.10

Headline rate of corporation tax will be cut further, from a planned move to 25%, to 24% - taking him ahead of his pre-existing schedule to reduce corporation by 1%.

1.06

Specific tax credits for pensioners to be phased out and normalised with normal tax credit level

1.04

Small firms to be taxed on the basis of cash going through their businesses, rather than be required to fill in full tax returns - if your income is less than £77,000. Helpful for white van man I think (not to mention freelance journalists…)

1.03

Now the highlight for most people - tax. The system “has moved far from its founding principles.” He is calling for radical simplification.

1.01

Planning - here we go. The NPPF to be published next week after all. The policy comes into effect when it’s published on Tuesday - does this mean there will be no transitional arrangements? A shock, if so, and the conservation lobby, and councils, will be very upset indeed.

1.00

Budget so far fairly low key - as these things go. A jibe about “Wallace and Gromit” - presumably a reference to the shadow leadership team has done the most to get people excited. The Government benches love it.

12.58

Chancellor has moved on from construction and infrastructure to the film industry - and so far no mention of the NPPF. Will he not mention it at all?

12.55

Announcements running thick and fast now. I’ll try to summarise:

12.52

Osborne now moves to transport specifically. Confirms Cameron’s announcement about increasing airport capacity in the south East, and announces funding for Network Rail extensions to the Northern Hub project around Manchester. Jibes at Labour for poor transport investment in the North

12.50

Osborne says his is the first government to publish a National Infrastructure Plan - also mentions the pensions investment he promised in the autumn. Doesn’t mention the infrastructure plan was a Labour idea…

12.47

Osborne announces he is expanding Get Britain Building fund - not sure this is in addition to the £150m announced on Monday. Will try to check and get back.

12.45

Low interest rates “reflect the confidence the market has in the UK’s ability to pay it’s way”. Announcing a review raising prospect of issuing 100-year or unlimited Gilts.

12.43

Osborne announcement he intends to institute an automatic review of the state pension age - raising the prospect of further increases beyond those already announced

12.42

Will use Royal Mail pensions windfall to pay off debt

12.39

Borrowing this year £1bn lower than forecast in the autumn - £11bn lower over the next five years. Osborne says “reinforcing fiscal responsibility.”

12.38

Deficit falling to 7.6% this year

12.37

OBR slightly revising up forecasts for the UK this year, with the UK economy having “carried more momentum into the New Year”

12.35

OBR revising down Eurozone growth to -0.3% for 2012. High risks for UK from this - but UK outlook broadly unchanged, the UK “will avoid a technical recession.”

12.34

Says he’s backing industries - aerospace etc - but doesn’t mention construction. Yet.

12.31

He’s just stood up. First lines - it “unashamedly backs business”

12.30

Other moves i’m looking out for today are:

NPPF - will they or won’t they? The Independent says, not today. Most likely George will mention the presumption in favour today, but we won’t get to see the final documents until tomorrow or later in the week.

PFI - I’m hearing Osborne will make noises on the review of PFI, without giving anything away. Will be interesting to see the words…

Allowable solutions - this is the tariff that housebuilders will have to pay when meeting their zero carbon targets. Today’s announcement could set a price for that carbon, and therefore give an idea how much they’ll have to pay

12:25

I’ll move on to covering the speech as soon as George Osborne stands, due at 12.30. So far David Cameron is still fighting with Ed Miliband in the weekly prime minister’s questions sanctioned brawl.

Any thoughts on any of this, please email me on joey.gardiner@ubm.com. The stories on stamp duty are probably the most significant of this morning’s crop. Feels like a way of covering for a socially regressive move (ie. income tax 50p band) by coming up with something that nominally targets the rich. Nevermind that stamp duty is a tax in serious need of serious reform, and the move could (at worst) damage the construction industry Gorgeous George is supposed to be helping. Do let me know what you think.

12:18

Good afternoon, Joey Gardiner here. Welcome to our coverage of the Budget 2012. If, like me you’ve been astounded at the number of “secret” and market sensitive budget announcements that appear to have been pre-briefed to the media this year, you’ll be looking for a handy summary of what we already know - or think we know - coming in to today’s speech.

Helpfully, Noble Francis, the economics director at the Construction Products Association has been reading the newspapers even more closely than me, and provided this:

Economic and Fiscal Overview

Industry

Lift restrictions on Sunday trading during the Olympics and the Paralympics

Investment

Remember this isn’t what we know - it’s what we think we know from all of the various leaks and pre-briefings that have been reported in recent days.

Coverage of the Budget will begin from 12.15.

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