Refurbishment Finance News:- Construction output increased by 1 per cent in the first three months of this year driven by repair and maintenance work, which rose by 2.9 per cent, Official National Statistics data reveals.

Growth in private housing repair and maintenance and non-housing repair and maintenance, which increased by 4 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively, boosted the quarterly figures.

Hank Zarihs Associates | Builders call for VAT cuts to bolster construction activity

The start of 2019 bounced back, specifically in January, which recorded a month-on-month growth of 3.3 per cent and contributed significantly to the first quarter growth.

However, construction output in March decreased by 1.9 per cent compared with February driven by falls in new work and repair and maintenance, which dropped by 1.8 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively.

The Federation of Master Builders, FMB,  said the latest statistics supported its call for the Government to cut home improvements VAT from 20 to 5 per cent.

FMB chief executive, Brian Berry, said: “To get us through these turbulent times, the Government must be bold in its thinking when it comes to supporting the economy bucking any downward turn.

“A cut in VAT would help stimulate demand from homeowners resulting in more work for the thousands of small to medium-sized construction companies which would help support local economies and increase training opportunities. This is all the more important given that the FMB’s own state of trade survey for Q1 2019 saw the first dip in workloads for small builders in six years.”

The FMB pointed out construction output in March had dropped by 1.9 per cent on the previous month with repair and maintenance reducing by 3.1 per cent.

He added: “Cutting VAT would also be an important step to help encourage more retrofits of our existing buildings to make them more energy efficient and deliver a cut in carbon emissions.”

Finance brokers Hank Zarihs Associates agreed this type of work was an important aspect of builders’ business and that a cut in VAT would encourage more SMEs to take out development and refurbishment finance.

New work experienced no growth across the quarter, as increases in infrastructure and public other new work of 5.6 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively were offset by decreases in private commercial and housing new work of 4.7 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively.

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Shiraz Khan is the author of the content. Shiraz is the managing director and founder of Hank Zarihs Associates. With over 16 years' of experience we are master brokers within the short term financing industry. We specialise in a wide variety of short term loans.