If I had to rate Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s recent spring budget, likely the last before an autumn general election, and its impact on plumbers and heating engineers, I’d give it a passing grade.

Firstly, let’s start with the good. The budget contains some policies that are likely to provide some respite for sole traders and SMEs.

From 1 April, businesses will only start paying VAT once their earnings hit £90,000, a £5,000 increase on current levels. This is the first increase to the VAT registration threshold for seven years. In his statement to the House of Commons announcing the budget, Jeremy Hunt said the move “...will bring tens of thousands of businesses out of paying VAT altogether and encourage many more to invest and grow”.

Self-employed National Insurance has also been cut, from 8% to 6%, with the Chancellor stating this will result in a saving of £350 a year for an average self-employed individual.

In addition, the Chancellor has elected to maintain the 5p cut and freeze to fuel duty until March 2025, which will save the average car driver £50 next year and bring total savings since the 5p cut was introduced to around £250, according to government figures.

The government is clearly putting measures in place to support sole traders and small businesses, however there was no mention in the budget of any policies to bolster the plumbing and heating industry as a whole.

Even the measures being implemented to support plumbers and heating engineers were seen as lacking ambition in some corners of the industry. Kevin Wellman, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, criticised the cuts to National Insurance because they “do not go far enough.”

He added: “In the heating and plumbing industry, installers have no choice but to make hefty upfront payments for products, such as boilers, meaning they are constantly being left out of pocket.

“The government talks of a positive ‘payment culture’ but it needs to put its money where its mouth is and ensure that consumers can have the work done that they need without plumbing and heating professionals footing the bill.”