The Spring Budget in focus

This week saw the long-awaited Spring Budget that was announced from the dispatch box by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, in the House of Commons. This statement was particularly important due to the cost-of-living crisis that we now find ourselves in, and the economic impact on global supply routes (in particular with regards to energy) as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Compared to the content of statements from the Treasury over the past couple of years (due to the government support needed to bolster the economy through the coronavirus pandemic) this year’s statement was relatively light on big ticket announcements such as those relating to infrastructure, construction, and levelling up. Instead, there was more of a focus on individual finances, with the word ‘infrastructure’ being mentioned only once in the entire speech.

Since the Autumn Budget in 2021, inflation has risen. This is a trend that is expected to continue over the coming years and months ahead with an expected 9% high by the end of the year.

One particularly relevant and welcomed announcement from the statement is the long awaited 5p reduction in fuel duty which took effect on23 March. This reduction will have a not inconsequential affect on our sector and will be most welcome by hauliers, suppliers, and the supply chain. Ensuring a project is delivered at cost is a key part of project management, and something that all three of our partners at Unity are committed to across all their projects. This reduction will no doubt help to facilitate that ambition.

However, questions must be answered regarding the implication of this statement on the delivery of the Government’s net zero agenda. This tension looks to increase over the coming months, with organisations campaigning for support for decarbonisation measures that won’t disproportionately hit people on lower incomes. Our partners have an exceptional record of constructing sustainable buildings and consistently strive to drive change and innovation to help the UK achieve its net-zero targets.

The upcoming Energy Strategy (expected to be released in April 2022) will be a bigger intervention and is expected in the next few weeks to set out how we end dependence on hydrocarbons from Russia.

In addition to the expertise and experience of Sir Robert McAlpine, VolkerFitzpatrick and WSP, we have brought specialist consultants, Copper Consultancy, into our Unity leadership team who have developed a thorough Spring Statement Report analysing its impacts on transport and construction, energy, and levelling up.