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Infrastructure & Regeneration | Health | Education | Social Housing | Product Feature PUBLIC SECTOR BUILDING SPECIFICATION 08 12 17 Issue 2 2018 | www.specificationonline.co.uk @MySpecNews PUBLIC PURSE BOOSTED AS GOVERNMENT ENJOYS SIGNIFICANT SURPLUS IN 18 YEARS Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show public sector net borrowing, excluding state- owned banks, was in surplus by £2 billion in July, £1 billion more than the surplus logged in July 2017. Economists had been expecting a surplus of £1.1 billion, but this was the largest July surplus since the year 2000. Government coffers were bolstered by receipts on self- assessed income tax, which are usually higher in January and to a lesser extent in July. The figures also showed that the deficit, excluding banks, in the current financial year to date was £12.8 billion, which is £8.5 billion less than during the same period in 2017. That covers the period between April to July this year. Public sector net debt, excluding state-owned banks, increased by £17.5 billion to £1,777.5 billion in July, equivalent to 84.3% of gross domestic product (GDP). Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association's Resources Board, said: "Councils and their staff have strained every sinew to support local communities and economies through years of austerity. "If public finances have improved, it is vital that the Government addresses the growing funding gaps facing our local services. Investing in local government will boost economic growth, reduce demand for services and save money for the taxpayer and others part of the public sector, such as the NHS. GREEN BELT 'BEING ERODED AT AN ALARMING RATE' The Green Belt remains under severe pressure, despite government commitments to its protection, according to a new report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). Moving Green Belt boundaries when reviewing local plans makes it easier for local authorities to release land for housing, but is only supposed to take place under 'exceptional circumstances'. This strategic shrinking of the Green Belt, as a way of getting around its protected status, is as harmful as building on the Green Belt itself. The report also demonstrates that building on the Green Belt is not solving the affordable housing crisis, and will not do so. Last year 72% of homes built on greenfield land within the Green Belt were unaffordable by the government's definition. Of the 460,000 homes that are planned to be built on land that will be released from the Green Belt, the percentage of unaffordable homes will increase to 78%. CPRE warns that this release of land looks set to continue, as one third of local authorities with Green Belt land will find themselves with an increase in housing targets, due to a new method for calculating housing demand. The London (Metropolitan) Green Belt will be the biggest casualty. REGIONAL BUILDERS STEP INTO CARILLION SHOES Regional building contractors are taking up market share in most parts of Britain since the collapse of Carillion at the start of this year. Glenigan's construction market analysis shows that regional contractors have increased market share in nine of the 11 British regions in the 12 months to Q2 2018. A year earlier, Carillion had featured amongst the top 10 contractors in seven regions. The contracting giant's failure in January 2018 opened up space for regional contractors, which have gained construction market share in five of these regions. Regional contractors have made the biggest gains in the wake of Carillion's collapse in the East of England, the North East and Wales. Overall, Glenigan's construction data shows that the top 10 tables for the 11 British regions feature 24 contractors that can be classified as regional. A year ago, that total was just 14, illustrating the scale of gains by smaller players since Carillion's demise. Tom Fyans, Director of Campaigns and Policy at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "We are being sold a lie by many developers. As they sell off and gobble up the Green Belt to build low density, unaffordable housing, young families go on struggling to afford a place to live. The affordable housing crisis must be addressed with increasing urgency, while acknowledging that far from providing the solution, building on the Green Belt only serves to entrench the issue." "Local government in England faces an overall funding gap of almost £8 billion by 2025 just to maintain services at current levels. "Councils have shouldered more than their fair share of austerity and have tried to reduce any impact on residents, but there is only so much they can do and the financial challenges they face are growing. More and more councils are struggling to balance their books and others are considering whether they have the funding to even deliver their statutory requirements." Chancellor Philip Hammond has been given cause to celebrate as official figures showed the Government logged its largest July surplus in 18 years. We have built the ultimate can-do joist. By manufacturing to the highest specifi cation our I-Joists are light, strong, thermally effi cient, BIM compatible, FSC and PEFC certifi ed and PAS 2050 accredited (to cut a long list short). But it's also the back-up we offer that no one can equal. Our expert team of designers, engineers and regional technical support is always there to say 'yes we can'. jamesjones.co.uk/ewp EMAIL: jji-joists @ jamesjones.co.uk

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