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Scottish workloads 'still awaiting a recovery'

Despite new figures from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) highlighting an overall upturn in workloads for construction businesses across the UK last month, companies in Scotland continue to face difficulties in securing new projects.

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in other parts of the UK witnessed a return to positive sentiment regarding a future growth in new business in June - the first time this has been the case since prior to the economic downturn in 2008.

However, in Scotland the picture looks a lot more bleak, with the FMB's latest State of Trade Survey reporting a deterioration of six points in its measure of business confidence to -26 per cent.

Grahame Barn, director of FMB Scotland, said: "These figures are worrying for Scottish builders. While the recovery seems to be picking up in other parts of the UK, it looks to have stalled in Scotland.

"Scottish SME builders, many of whom are drowning in red tape, have had to cut back employees. According to our latest survey, they are very concerned about the future."

As a result, he pointed to a number of measures the Scottish government could look to employ to spur future growth in the sector, including reduction in the VAT rate for domestic, repairs maintenance and building to five per cent in order to spur the uptake of this kind of work.

In addition, policies such as the Green Deal have so far underwhelmed many industry professionals and SME builders in particular, with limited take-up and a mass of red tape for those wishing to provide this service to jump through.

Streamlining the whole Green Deal assessment and loans process would have a significant beneficial impact on the building sector at large, but would also provide a key boost to the country's ambitions for reducing its energy consumption and carbon emissions over the coming years.

"The coming months are critical for the future of Scottish builders," Mr Barn concluded. 

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