Autumn Statement - a missed opportunity to tackle housing crisis and boost UK construction industry

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon George Osborne MP’s Autumn Statement to the House of Commons this afternoon. The RIBA has welcomed the Chancellor’s commitment to build 120,000 new homes - as part of a larger £5.5 billion investment in infrastructure – but is concerned that the Government is not doing enough to address the current housing crisis.

RIBA President Angela Brady said:

'A healthy construction industry is vital if the UK is to recover from the economic decline of the past few years. We do not believe the Autumn Statement goes far enough to tackle this housing crisis. The commitment to fund 120,000 is welcome but significantly short of the mark; we need to be building 300,000 new homes a year to meet current demands and solve the housing shortage.

'Design quality is vital for creating long lasting sustainable homes and communities and offering real long-term value to the taxpayer. The Government must ensure that the promised investment in housing and schools is spent on well-designed buildings where people want to live and where children are inspired to learn.'

The Future Homes Commission's groundbreaking report 'Building the Homes and Communities Britain Need', published in October this year, called for:

  • a three-fold increase in the number of new homes being built every year (from the current 100,000 to over 300,000) on brownfield land and land close to virtually every city, and provide
  • a greater focus on design in all new homes, ensuring they meet current residents' needs, making them fit for future generations, and thus attractive to UK and international institutional investors so that Local Authority pension funds can recycle their investment once a community has been established; and
  • a more consumer-oriented housing market, with reliable, comprehensive information available to people when making the most important financial decisions of their lives.

Other announcements of interest to the RIBA within the Autumn Statement are:

  • Schools –£1billion to improve good schools and build 100 new free schools and academies.
  • PFI – The Chancellor published the long-awaited proposals, announcing a replacement for the current system of PFI.
  • Empty Property Tax -  The Government has announced that it will exempt all newly built commercial property completed between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016 from empty property rates for the first 18 months
  • Pension Funds – The Chancellor announced that the nation’s pension funds will launch a new independent infrastructure investment platform next year.

 

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