The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is calling on the government to deliver on its promises to get Britain building. Ahead of next week's Budget, the organisation has urged funds to be released to give the property market a much needed boost and create the housing infrastructure that the country is crying out for.
Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, stated: "The mantra now must be deliver at all costs. We have seen promises of funding and cheaper borrowing from the government but we now need to see evidence that it's actually getting through to the firms and projects that need it. Every pound invested in construction provides around GBP 2.80 of benefits to the wider economy, and if the UK is to work its way out of the economic slump, ongoing investment in construction will be crucial."
While RICS has been encouraged by increased activity in the housing market over the coming months, thanks to the Funding for Lending Scheme, the property industry is still in need of another shot in the arm to increase its volume of affordable housing and first time buyer purchases.
Currently, insufficient capital is being filtered down to developers and contractors, and there is concern that the construction sector will stagnate if funds aren't released swiftly. Despite chancellor George Osborne reaffirming his dedication to the industry in the Autumn Statement, initiatives like the Regional Growth Fund and Get Britain Building have yet to have a significant impact.
To change the fortunes of the construction sector and increase UK housing stock, RICS claim that the looming Budget must contain plans for greater investment in maintenance of existing infrastructure, a "concrete" plan for how central funding for Local Enterprise Partnerships is to be allocated, and clarification as to when Empty Property Rate exemption will take effect. Clarity over where and how businesses can apply for funding support and a commitment to promoting public sector construction contracts are also needed.
Does RICS have the right answer? Will more house building really help the economy and housing market?
- Monday 18 March 2013