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British Property Federation encouraged by construction industry boost to UK economy

The property industry has welcomed official data today showing that the construction industry was the largest contributor to economic growth in the third quarter of 2010.

Data published by the Office of National Statistics today shows GPD grew by 0.8% in Q3 2010, with the construction sector accounting for almost one-third (0.25%). The results mean the sector has posted quarter-on-quarter growth for the first time since 2007, and has recorded an 11% increase between Q3 2010 and Q3 2009.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation (BPF), said: "These are encouraging results and illustrate just how important a vibrant construction industry is to the overall UK economy.

"During the last two quarters the construction industry has posted strong economic growth for the first time in three years. It is vital for the UK that it is allowed to maintain that momentum."

The BPF warned that the construction sector could be held back if ministers do not move quickly to introduce some form of Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which last week received backing in George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

TIF, a method of forwarding funding infrastructure, be it roads, public transport or community facilities, are seen as vital to unlocking new development. A council can borrow the money to fund these projects and so allow wider development schemes to go ahead, and collect the extra business rates generated by the development to pay back the loan over a set period of time.

Council-funded TIF would require legislation that may not be introduced until next year but in the meantime developer-funded TIFs, which would see the private sector take on all of the development risk, could be launched sooner with Treasury backing.

Liz Peace said: "At a time when few regeneration projects are viable, TIF offers one of the best prospects for providing the upfront funding of essential infrastructure that is needed to attract vital new investment from the private sector, and by doing so securing further growth in the construction industry as it continues to support the UK economy out of recession."

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