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'We need certainty on extending Help to Buy'

THE chief executive of family-owned house-building and manufacturing firm Mactaggart & Mickel (MacMic) is hopeful a number of Budget measures can be useful for the business.

Ed Monaghan admitted the key announcement for him was the much-trailed confirmation that the Help to Buy scheme will be extended until the end of the decade.

But Mr Monaghan said there was now a need for the Scottish Government to provide a commitment to extend the scheme here.

He said: "We need that same certainty.

"It allows house builders to be more confident about securing more planning consents, buying more land and ultimately building more houses."

While it was not yet clear whether Scottish firms will be able to tap into a £500 million Builders' Finance Fund, Mr Monaghan indicated MacMic, which employs 230 people, would be keen to see further details on the scheme.

Mr Monaghan said the doubling of capital allowances was also welcome and would let the firm look at further investment in its timber-frame manufacturing division.

He said: "All businesses are looking at how we can improve on our overall productivity.

"We lost a significant number of employees during the downturn and many have not returned to the industry so we are having to get back up to speed, so there will be skills issues ahead of us.

"If we can do more off-site manufacturing then that will help. Any stimulus to allow investment has to be a positive and I absolutely welcome it."

The MacMic manufacturing division should also benefit from moves to cut energy costs, although Mr Monaghan acknowledged he was still trying to work out how those benefits would come through.

He said: "Energy is a major cost in any manufacturing business and anything that assists in reducing that is greatly appreciated." Mr Monaghan, who is also the chair of Construction Skills Scotland, indicated MacMic would continue to bring through apprentices and would consider using new grant funding announced by the Treasury.

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