After Labour released their manifesto this week (16th May), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Parliamentary Affairs Manager Lewis Johnston commented on both infrastructure and housing.
He said: “As the election campaign picks up speed, it is encouraging to see the parties start to set out clear policies for the built environment. However, as ever with manifesto commitments, the test of applicability is whether they can be funded. As polling day draws near, we want all parties to focus on the housing, infrastructure and construction challenges we face – whilst Brexit will no doubt be top of the next Government’s in-tray, it must not lose sight of the built environment.”
“Labour have committed to investing £250 billion over 10 years and will keep the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC). This is the kind of ambition for infrastructure we have called for in our policy manifesto Priorities for the Built Environment, and we’re glad to see it given such prominence.
“The NIC has provided much-needed strategic focus to infrastructure policy since its establishment, and deserves to command this level of support. The next government needs to work with the private sector to unlock funding and deliver strategically vital projects – surveying professionals can bring their cost and project management expertise to bear on these schemes – ensuring delivery on time and on budget. Something vital to maintaining and encouraging investment.”
“The familiar pledge to deliver 1 million homes has been repeated; what’s more interesting as a statement of intent is the commitment to establish a new Department for Housing and overhaul the Homes and Communities Agency as a delivery body. The party has also said they will give Local Authorities new powers to build, something our own manifesto identified as important for driving up supply. The commitment to properly resource planning departments also addresses a long-standing concern around the capacity of planning teams.
“The pledge to raise standards and encourage more secure tenancies in the Private Rented Sector (PRS), is a positive step towards a professionalised sector. This ambition could be achieved by implementing our proposal and putting the industry-developed PRS Code into legislation, raising standards without overburdening the sector. However, Labour’s proposed inflationary cap on rent rises is misguided and could squeeze supply, with negative consequences for tenants.”
“With homelessness on the rise, we are also pleased to see a commitment to a national strategy to tackle the problem. This year RICS launched its own anti-homelessness campaign “A Home for Cathy” and we want to work together with the next Government, as well as the Metro Mayors, to find concrete solutions.”