Prime minister-in-waiting Theresa May has pledged more government-backed infrastructure bonds, more housebuilding and a revamped industrial strategy.
She was speaking in Birmingham yesterday morning, before her leadership rival Andrea Leadsom quit the contest, which led to Mrs May being named Conservative Party leader.
She said she wanted improved productivity and “a proper industrial strategy to get the whole economy firing”.
Mrs May said this would involve “an energy policy that emphasises the reliability of supply and lower costs for users… More Treasury-backed project bonds for new infrastructure projects. More housebuilding.”
She also wanted “a plan to help not one or even two of our great regional cities but every single one of them”. Some commentators have interpreted this as suggesting she will focus less on the chancellor George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse agenda. Her speech referred repeatedly to inequalities and the struggles faced by those trying to get onto the housing ladder.
A 3 per cent stamp duty increase for some second homes launched by Mr Osborne, which took effect in April, was aimed at increasing housing supply by targeting buy-to-let landlords.
The move has been criticised by some construction firms for failing to tackle the root causes of the lack of affordable housing. Mrs. May said far more needed to be done to build more houses.
She added: “Unless we deal with the housing deficit, we will see house prices keep on rising… and more and more of the country’s money will go into expensive housing instead of more productive investments that generate more economic growth.”
Mrs May also said she wanted to see more public services run by employee-led organisations known as ‘mutuals’. “As we take infrastructure decisions – like with new housing, roads, or exploration for oil and gas – the benefits should be shared not just with local authorities but with local people themselves.
Despite having been in the Remain camp ahead of the EU referendum, she made it clear that the government under her leadership would not try to back out of the vote to leave, saying: “Brexit means Brexit.”
Construction firms’ fears that they could lose large chunks of their workforce following the vote were partly addressed by Mrs May last week. She initially declined to guarantee the rights of EU citizens already living in the UK to stay in the country, but last week clarified that they could stay as long as UK expats were granted the same rights by the EU.
Mrs. May’s views on whether there should be a third runway at Heathrow are not entirely clear. Her Maidenhead constituency is close to Heathrow, but she told the Evening Standard last week that she will await a Cabinet decision before taking sides.
Mrs. May has previously voted in favour of reducing the rate of corporation tax and for lower car fuel costs, and against greater regulation of fracking, according to the site Theyworkforyou.com. Prime minister David Cameron tendered his resignation to the Queen on Wednesday afternoon, paving the way for Mrs May to take his place. She is expected to name a new Cabinet shortly after taking the reins at Number 10.
Oringinal article posted on: Construction News