#Budget2020: Greening our housing stock

UK Government needs a concerted focus in this year’s Budget on the built and natural environment to benefit future generations and the UK economy, according to RICS Budget 2020 wish-list.

People’s right to a place to call home remains at the forefront of RICS’ recommendations, but equally important is the need to build sustainably, greening our housing stock, and reassessing the UK’s planning system to develop new thriving communities.

Housing recommendations include:

  • Encourage greening our construction activity with a commitment to sustained funding and financial incentives for retrofitting existing buildings.
  • Green overhaul of VAT – introduce a uniform 5% VAT reduction for sustainable home improvements
  • Promote use of MMC in public infrastructure schemes and financially incentivise local authorities and housing associations use MMC for housing
  • A full-scale review of the stamp duty land tax (SDLT) system
  • Support industry in delivering the pipeline of skills required to undertake the UK’s building requirements
  • Properly funding planning departments including recruitment of additional staff with specific expertise in areas identified as deficient

Hew Edgar: Head of UK Government Relations & City Strategy comments: “RICS wants to see clear action to fix the host of challenges facing the built environment. This includes pragmatic, long term, solutions to the problems of housing supply and affordability, the UK’s ailing high streets and town centres, and mitigating the effects of climate change.”

For the second year running, RICS are also calling on Government to address two of the potentially biggest, crippling issues that the sector is set to face. Under EU rule, the UK heavily relied on the European Investment Bank (EIB) for a lot of infrastructure investment. Additionally, with a need to employ one new construction professional every 77 seconds to keep up with the UK’s housing and infrastructure needs, there is a desperate need for Government to seriously address the skills deficit.

Hew Edgar continues: “The Prime Minister has stated his intention to make “colossal new investments in infrastructure”. While welcome, the UK construction sector is struggling to deal with a skills shortage and facing a retirement ‘cliff-edge’. The decision to include quantity surveyors in the UK Shortage Occupation List is a useful, and welcome approach; but the Government should look to support future home-grown talent, and as well as the diversification of the construction and infrastructure workforce.”

The wishlist in full can be viewed at rics.org and includes recommendations on further topics including land management as well as business rates.