2 December 2015
Comprehensive Spending Review and Autumn Statement: reaction from the FM industry.
Chancellor George Osborne's spending review and autumn statement 2015 outlined how £4 trillion of government funds will be spent within the next five years, with the NHS to receive half-a-trillion in funding, £23 billion to be invested in schools and a new obligation to reduce carbon emissions to be placed on energy suppliers.
Reaction from across the facilities management industry has been collated here.
Private sector to play key role in growing UK economy
Chancellor of the Business Services Association, Mark Fox, said that Osborne's statement sets a sustainable path forward, and the private sector has a key part to play in delivering government aims and growing the UK economy.
However, Fox gave a warning to the government, commenting: "Government needs to be careful about the ever-increasing cost of doing business in the UK."
More information needed on support for renewables
Investment in the Department of Energy and Climate Change's innovation programme will see delivery on commitments to seed funding for new renewable energy technologies and smart grids, according to the chancellor's review.
However, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) says it is only "cautiously optimistic" that the renewable heat industry will remain supported for 2020, and hopes that the increased £1.15 billion made available through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will be open to a range of technologies including biomass, biogas and district heating.
Dr Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the REA, accepted the spending reform made to the RHI, saying: "A £700 million cut is large, but we look forward to working with the government on reforming this crucial area."
She continued: "We still have a large challenge in hitting our renewable heat targets, and the RHI alone won't achieve it; heat networks, energy efficiency and Green Gas still have a large part to play."
Experienced construction workers needed to meet housing demand
Significant housing commitments were laid out in the review, including the delivery of 400,000 affordable homes and reforms to the planning system to free up housing land.
Julie Evans, chief executive of the research and consultancy firm BSRIA, broadly welcomed the chancellor's high ranking of housing on a national scale, though she described some of the measures outlined as "imprecise and difficult to quantify".
"This announcement could lead to thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships being created in the sector," Evans said, "but we must ensure that the industry can find the much-needed qualified and experienced construction employees to meet this demand."
Of the new 0.5 per cent apprenticeship levy to deliver three million apprenticeship starts by 2020, Evans said: "Although we finally have clarity over the threshold of the apprenticeship levy, it will trouble corporate businesses who will have to pay what is, in essence, a payroll tax.
"It is important that the delivery of the levy doesn't dent other types of vocational training, which could be better suited to some businesses in the industry."