Rishi Sunak

What does the property industry think of the chancellor's £3bn green investment package?



In yesterday’s Summer Economic Update from the chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, the government announced a £3bn green investment package to support around 140,000 green jobs and upgrade buildings and reduce emissions.

While the temporary stamp duty cut was the top headline for the property industry yesterday, the chancellor’s green investment package is set to create thousands of jobs for tradespeople in a bid to help get Britain building.

As part of this, homeowners and landlords in England will be able to apply for vouchers from a £2bn Green Homes Grant scheme this year to pay for green improvements such as loft, wall and floor insulation, that could save some households hundreds of pounds a year on their energy bills.

Rishi Sunak also revealed a £1bn programme that will make public buildings — including schools and hospitals — greener, assisting the country to meet its ambitions of achieving net zero by 2050.

In addition, £5.8bn will be spent on shovel-ready construction projects to get Britain building.

This includes:

  • £1.5bn for hospital maintenance and upgrades
  • £100m for the local roads network
  • over £1bn to start to rebuild schools in the worst condition in England, plus £760m this year for key maintenance work on schools and FE colleges
  • £1bn for local projects to boost local economic recovery in the places that need it most
  • £142m for court maintenance to repair around 100 courts across England.

What does the property industry think?

Rory O’Hagan, director at Assael Architecture, said that reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment was key to reaching the UK’s net zero target by 2050.

“Retro-fitting public sector buildings and social housing is a welcome first step, but to achieve the scale and pace of change that we need will require a cohesive policy change that survives Rishi Sunak’s funding plan and encourages stable, high-quality practice across the board.

“The property industry is committed to playing its part, but needs a clear roadmap from government setting out a timeframe for achieving the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that will be required.

“It will also need greater emphasis on measuring the amount of energy that buildings actually use — the Committee on Climate Change estimates that new homes [could] lose 50% more heat than design estimates expect — some form of accountability for the ‘in-use’ performance of buildings would lead to better design and construction standards.”

Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley and creator of automated lettings platform, PlanetRent, claimed that the UK’s old housing stock was not just bad for the environment, but bad for our health too, adding that too many properties suffered from problems with damp and cold.

“It is important the government's voucher scheme covers renters, especially as homes in the private rented sector tend to be older,” she noted.

Brian Berry, chief executive at the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “Grant-funded vouchers are a step in the right direction to launching the retrofit market and supporting consumers to build with confidence after the pandemic.

“We hope at the Autumn Budget [that] the chancellor will bring forward the rest of the £9.2bn manifesto commitment and support the development of private finance initiatives that will ensure the market grows in a sustainable way.

“We have an army of local builders ready to deliver these works to a high standard, provide local employment, and generate economic activity in each corner of the UK.”

Alfonso Padro, principal at HKS Architects, welcomed the government’s commitment to ‘greening up’ public buildings and hoped this was a sign of impactful intent to where value is placed throughout the procurement process and beyond.

“For too long the focus has been on upfront capital costs which, to some degree, has affected the competitive tendering and sustainable quality of buildings.

“Consideration given to the long-term running costs of public buildings will benefit schools, hospitals and, ultimately, the public purse and the environment.”

 


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