Since my last report the main event has been the budget, plenty has been said elsewhere so I will settle for a brief summary:
Most was leaked ahead of the main announcement, so no surprises and it looks like we will avoid double dip recession – although the Chancellors expectations are optimistic compared with other forecasters. The larger housebuilders reacted positively, in addition to the well publicised infrastructure investment, £50 million is to be spent introducing high speed broadband into 2 cities but we are seeing a slow start to introducing new forms of investment. It was disappointing that there was no announcement on a new model for PFI and that more was not done to increase employment through construction investment.
Latest Office for National Statistics figures for February orders, when compared with January, show a 2% increase for new work and a 13% increase for Repair and Maintenance, making a total increase in output of 6%. Although good spin, it is still one of the worst performing months since January 2010.
Forecasters have taken a negative view on social housing starts for 2011 onwards, so it is encouraging to see in the Homes & Communities Agency report that they have exceeded their delivery targets for 2011-12. They cannot report on housing starts and completions until May or June but the tone suggests that these will exceed target.
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