Autumn Statement 2016

Autumn Statement 2016

25th November 2016 | David Jackson

David Jackson, Founder and Chairman for leading construction audit and contract provider, Hudson Contract, comments on various aspects of the Autumn Statement including the role self-employed workers can play in driving productivity in the construction industry, meeting the skills shortage and taxation.

“The Autumn Statement strongly emphasised a commitment to more investment in infrastructure, increased housing development and a drive to raise productivity. That's a three-fold commitment which builders can be relied upon to deliver.”

The role of self-employed and freelance workers

“There's a great deal that those who choose to freelance in the construction sector can and will contribute to the ambitious plans announced by Mr Hammond. They offer agile working solutions to construction and will play a key role in driving productivity.

“In a paper we published in 2012 written by Economics Professor Andrew Burke, we identified the benefits that freelance builders bring to construction sites, including; increased productivity through their willingness to work for paid outputs and increased flexibility of trade-specific operatives to meet programme demands. The decreased ‘down-time’ of non-productive hours when specific trades are not needed also generates an overall better value for money on construction projects.”

Skills shortage and training

“Such a government reliance on the construction industry to spearhead improvements in infrastructure should create a demand for more skilled workers within the sector. Training therefore will play an important part to increase both the number of skilled operatives in the sector and the number of apprenticeship places afforded to those joining the industry.

“A timely commitment to the introduction of the National Apprenticeship levy to provide for increased numbers of apprentice places is indeed necessary. But what of those adults who need re-training to meet increased demand? In light of the Autumn Statement you might think that this is a time to increase training provision and yet the CITB are committed to reducing their training provision.

“I believe the private sector will step up to meet the need for adult re-training. Facilities will need to grow and if providers are able to offer accredited training with the outcome of retrained tradespeople skilled to an industry-acceptable standard, the sector will be able to meet the increased commitment to infrastructure and housing.”

Taxation, CIS and governmental cash flow

“There was of course mention in the statement of taxation and a reiteration of fair taxation for all. The Construction Industry Scheme is long established in that regard. All freelancers or labour-only subbies accept the fairness of the scheme and the deduction of tax at source, on every payment. “Where correctly applied and in strict accordance with all relevant tax laws, the CIS scheme provides for a positive cash-flow into the treasury and facilitates a near one billion interest-free loan to the government coffers.”

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