Construction industry expresses extreme frustration at NI Budget outcome

Commenting after the publication of the Northern Ireland Budget for 2019/20, which included a £130m reduction in expected capital spending, Construction Employers Federation Assistant Director David Fry said...

“Today’s statement will be met with extreme frustration across the local construction industry. While we are in no way doubting the funding pressures on our public services, the reason we are in this position of having to transfer money from capital to resource is the year-on-year policy of our collective political class to duck the big decisions. It is pretty clear that, by virtue of today’s budget statement, the construction industry will have to now shoulder in 2019/20 a large element of the result of years of politicians putting their heads in the sand with respect to systemic and fundamental challenges which should never have been ducked.

“This budget outcome, given our warnings about the underfunding of much needed upgrades to Wastewater Treatment Works and, in our State of Trade survey last week, that some 36% of local contractors will make redundancies in the next 3-6 months if the ongoing impasse isn’t resolved, is completely unacceptable. There is in our view a very clear case for a review of this settlement to be urgently undertaken ahead of Tuesday’s House of Commons debate on the Budget Bill.

“It is now vital that, for each of the departmental allocations made today, clarity is brought to the market speedily as to what new projects will advance to procurement over the next 12 months. It is also critical that clients, in the context of an unexpectedly constrained capital budget when compared to what the Chancellor announced in October, take sensible decisions with respect to setting in stone allocations to projects now which, for a variety of reasons, may not make significant construction progress until early 2020. Notwithstanding the unexpected £130m reduction in the overall capital spend, there remains a pot of £1.39bn that has now been allocated to departments and we would encourage them to allocate it wisely.”