MPA highlights key priorities for Autumn Statement
Association calls for government action to boost construction activity, productivity and economic growth
THE Mineral Products Association (MPA) is calling on the Government to take action in the forthcoming Autumn Statement to boost construction activity, productivity and economic growth.
MPA representations indicate that the construction market has more positive momentum than official data would suggest, but that declining business investment and lower real wage growth could constrain construction and economic activity in 2017 and 2018.
Highlighting the lack of consistent growth across Great Britain since the 2008/9 recession and the pressing need for a more strategic and consistent approach to regional economies, the Association says its use of ready-mixed concrete sales volumes as a proxy for construction – which in turn reflects regional development and growth – shows that the London market is 40% higher than pre-recession, but in every other region of Great Britain markets are at least 20% below pre-recession levels.
This, it says, illustrates the extent to which recovery has been skewed towards London.
The MPA has set out a number of key priorities for the economy and the construction and mineral products industries, including:
- Boosting overall infrastructure investment.
- Accelerating delivery of the Government’s Road Investment Strategy, taking the opportunity to bring forward smaller-scale spending and, notably, the motorway and trunk road renewal programme.
- Future-proofing energy supply, by positive action to deliver more generating capacity and to progress carbon capture and storage.
- Increasing house building, notably for affordable housing.
- Introducing a significant and time-limited increase in annual investment allowances and extending the scope of allowances to include buildings, which could provide significant additional incentives for business investment.
- Stimulating regional economic activity through an effective industrial strategy.
- Freezing and amending the Aggregates Levy, particularly to capture the aggregates content of UK imports of concrete products and, therefore, create a level playing field with UK producers; and introducing an Aggregates Levy Community and Biodiversity Fund in England.
- Protecting the competitiveness of energy-intensive industries in the UK, such as cement and lime.
- Reshaping the Apprenticeship Levy, so that it can work as an effective mechanism for increasing skills rather than just as a business tax.
- Implementing the ‘red tape’ review of mineral extraction so that real and meaningful regulatory efficiencies can be delivered.
- Making Brexit work, including the need to sustain as much access as possible to the single market and to maintain access to EU citizens with appropriate skills.
MPA chief executive Nigel Jackson commented: ‘It is critical that the Autumn Statement concentrates on measures to support industry, economic growth and productivity, and to strengthen confidence to invest.
‘We may be unclear and uncertain about the outcome and consequences of Brexit, but we can be clear and certain of what needs to be done now to boost the UK’s open economy and international competitiveness, and this is the focus of the MPA’s proposals.’