Government Need To Prioritise Infrastructure And New Build Strategies
Earlier this month, Sajid Javid announced an additional £13.8 billion will be offered to Governmental departments over the next 12 months after a Spending Review pledge to end austerity.
Unfortunately, other than offering a 2.7% boost to the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s coffers, there was a lack of information regarding new homes and strategies to solve the housing crisis.
Building sector experts welcomed the additional £3.6 billion investment into the New Towns Fund and the further £241 million to regenerate British high streets but there was criticism over how planning departments would be relieved of spending cuts, understanding of how the money will support housing delivery or a consideration of how infrastructure would be improved.
Experts believe that the latest spending round could offer positive opportunities for the housing sector, but greater consideration needs to be paid into strategies to combat new housing provision and tackling an escalating housing crisis.
Melanie Leech, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, commented:
“Additional funding for local authorities is much needed and welcome. However, today’s Spending Review offers little to support new housing delivery or overstretched planning departments.
“Local authorities have a unique and vital role in alleviating the housing crisis and rejuvenating the UK’s struggling town centres, working in partnership with the property industry. However, despite the ambitions of many local authorities, they simply do not have the resources to focus on the strategic issues that will shape and secure their communities’ long-term future.
“Additional funding must be allocated to planning departments, which have seen the most severe cuts of any local authority service, with per-person spend on planning falling by 55 per cent between 2010/11 and 2017/18.
“While today’s announcement may ease some of the funding challenges facing local authorities, we cannot ignore the need for a more comprehensive change in the way that local government is valued and resourced.”
“It is critical that the government continues to lead on addressing the environmental issues that we face, domestically and globally, and we look forward to receiving further clarity on what funding and associated policy interventions will be forthcoming in the upcoming infrastructure strategy.
“However, the £90m allocated today to issues of air quality, biodiversity, and greenhouse gas emissions does not reflect the scale of the challenge we face.
“Reducing our domestic emissions to net zero by 2050, as the Committee on Climate Change has noted, is only achievable if credible policies are introduced, existing ambitions are delivered in full, and challenges that have so far been out of scope are confronted.”
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said:
“The housing crisis is undermining the British economy. If we are to increase productivity and improve our competitive edge on the world stage, then building more new homes must form part of the Government’s campaign to upgrade our infrastructure.
“I welcome the announcement for £241 million to be spent on the regeneration of high streets, town centres and local economies via the Towns Fund, and additional support for Homes England, however this must be part of an overarching strategy for new build homes and social housing, which will be key to securing a prosperous post-Brexit Britain.
“What’s more, we need a retrofit strategy to ensure that our existing homes are fit for the future, and to alleviate the scourge of fuel poverty.
“An upgrade of our infrastructure, including building new world-class schools and hospitals, will require a strong construction industry.
“The skills shortage is highly concerning in this respect, with just under two-thirds of builders struggling to hire bricklayers and more than half of builders struggling to hire carpenters.
“The announcement for an additional £400 million to be pumped into Further Education is a welcome boost to giving colleges and employers the resources they need to train more apprentices, and make T Levels, which will become the vocational counterpart to A Levels, a success.
“Today’s Spending Round set the scene for a positive outlook for builders, but we need more details about how more new homes will be delivered.”
How should Government investment in the housing sector be spent?