Travis Perkins slams Osborne over economy

 
City A.M. Reporter
THE GOVERNMENT needs some radical thinking to get the economy moving, the boss of the country’s biggest supplier of building materials, Travis Perkins said yesterday.

“The trouble at the moment is that people are thinking of conventional solutions and I’m afraid we’re not in conventional economic times, so we’ve got to think more radically to get some of these markets moving,” chief executive Geoff Cooper said.

He called on chancellor George Osborne to cut VAT sales tax on home improvement products, particularly for renewable building projects, in his Budget next month.

“There’s a lot of evidence to show that if you increase economic activity in construction, you get a boost to the economy overall because most of the product is domestically derived and it’s domestic activity,” he said.

The Bank of England has predicted a slow economic recovery over the next three years after two years of stagnation because of a mix of Eurozone turmoil, government austerity and subdued consumer spending.

Cooper also wants the government to extend its Funding for Lending scheme, cut stamp duty and bring back tax relief for first-time buyers to boost the housing market.

He was speaking after Travis Perkins posted a 1.1 per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profit to £300m on sales up 1.4 per cent to £4.85bn.

But 2013 has got off to a slow start, with like-for-like sales down 5.1 per cent in the first seven weeks.