Organisations Offer Vacant Buildings To Key Workers

It was announced on the 23 March 2020 that various organisations, that represent over 130,000 skilled professionals in the property sector, have signed a letter to the government offering their help in the Coronavirus crisis.

This week saw a sea of support wash over the NHS in the form of a scheduled clappathon. Whilst the news is rather bleak as of late, the following story offers a slither of positivity.

Led by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RTPI) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RIBA) the letter also called for ministers to extend emergency measures to the UK’s construction and infrastructure sector worth over £100 billion to the economy.

The offer of help could see RICS members, who represent hundreds of clients across the sector, offer empty rooms and buildings to become repurposed temporary housing for key workers in the crisis, such as NHS staff, allowing them to locate closer to hospitals and workspaces.

The letter has also asked the Prime Minister to act in respect to those under strain in the property sector, such as surveyors, architects and planners.

Suggestions included:

  • Seeking the introduction of emergency loan funding for all firms in the build environment sector
  • ‘Fiscal support’ to aid in consultancy firms to invest in work from home technology, allowing people to stay at home and reduce the burden on transport services
  • Support for lost wages of employees now on reduced time or who face being made temporarily redundant

Matthew Howell, managing director of RICS UK said:

“Whether you’re a chartered surveyor, architect or town planner, the growing coronavirus pandemic is one of the biggest threats to the property industry since the financial crash, and we need serious action now to prevent job losses and businesses shutting down.

“RICS has been supporting its members, including keeping them updated on the changing advice from Government, but we are hearing more support is needed. That’s why we’re joining with RTPI and RIBA to call on the Prime Minister to open up a range of emergency measures to help property professionals deal with the effects of this virus, including support for firms to allow staff to work from home and wage relief for individuals on reduced hours or facing temporary redundancy.

“We also stand ready as a profession to do our part to aid the UK in getting through this together. Our professionals and firms working across the built environment sector have access to a wide range of buildings that could be utilised by the NHS or other key workers for various purposes. We would be keen to meet with Government to discuss this and ensure the space and any vacant beds are put to good use.”

Alan Vallance, CEO of RIBA said:

“This is a critical time for the built environment.

“Without financial measures to help preserve cash flow and clarity on how the planning system and development control systems will continue to operate, our sector remains at risk.

“We also need assurance that the Government will do everything it can to make sure construction projects are able to progress safely.

“We appreciate the close engagement with civil servants and ministers to ensure the voice of the built environment is heard and that the right actions are taken.”

Victoria Hills, CEO of RTPI said:

“Town planners stand ready with all built environment professionals to do what we can to help mitigate this pandemic, and help our country get back to social normality and economic productivity afterwards.”

Today's Conveyancer