In a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, BWF chief executive Iain McIlwee has outlined recommendations to energise the industry and the construction sector on which it relies. These include proposals that the Government should:
- Intensify pressure on the banks to increase lending to creditworthy businesses, especially SMEs
- Simplify communication and increase awareness of initiatives such as the Business Finance Partnership
- Scrap this year’s planned reduction in the Annual Investment Allowance and defer the scheduled fuel price rise
- Better promote the Green Deal to consumers and introduce a standard 5% VAT rate for products and measures that boost energy efficiency
- Support the whole manufacturing sector, rather than select parts such as aerospace and car manufacture, to help attract new entrants to the joinery industry
- Reduce employers’ National Insurance for one or two years, a temporary freeze in the development rate of the minimum wage and other incentives to increase the employment of young people and apprentices in the industry
- Structured support for SME management and leadership training, and reductions in red tape
- Reinstate support for ProSkills, giving it the resources it needs to develop current and future skills for the manufacturing sector
- Boost mortgage lending and revive the Stamp Duty relief for first-time buyers which has just been stopped
- Progress with the reforms in the National Planning Policy Framework and maintain its presumptions in favour of sustainable development.
Mr McIlwee comments: “The last three years have been tough, with many companies having to cut back and restructure as far as is possible. Despite this, BWF members have remained resilient and innovative in the face of such change. The Budget comes at a critical time for us.
“The joinery industry has always been and remains a fundamental part of the UK manufacturing sector. It represents an estimated £5 billion spread across 5,500 firms in the UK and employing 100,000. The Government’s plans must take into account the challenges that we face to ensure British manufacturing can thrive in the future and be in a strong shape to support and benefit from the UK’s economic recovery.”