British Property Federation response to Spending Review
Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, British Property Federation comments:
“With many parts of our economy still very much in the eye of the Covid-19 storm – including the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, and the commercial property owners supporting them – the Spending Review today was always going to be more difficult and shorter-term in its scope than we would have liked. While, as anticipated, the Chancellor kicked his statement off by setting a rather sombre scene, he did however set out a number of welcome decisions to lay the foundations for recovery, which must be followed through in the next few months.
National Infrastructure Strategy & Green Book Review
“Most notably, the long-awaited National Infrastructure Strategy and Green Book Review have been published today. New infrastructure investment to connect and modernise places, while delivering on the Government’s Net Zero Carbon commitments, will be fundamental to UK recovery, and the announcement of a new National Infrastructure Bank suggests the Government understands the need for a long-term strategy and commitment to attract private sector investment alongside public spending.
“The outcome of the Green Book Review, which sets out changes to how government appraises and evaluates spending decisions, should also mean the private sector is able to partner more effectively with public investment to deliver wider economic, social and environmental benefits in an inclusive way across the country.
Levelling Up Fund
“A new Levelling Up Fund of £4 billion – underpinned by a place-based approach and managed collectively by the Treasury, the Department for Transport and MHCLG – is absolutely a step in the right direction. Town centres, however, urgently need this investment and so the bidding process must be as streamlined as possible. Given immediate pressures, local authorities must not be made to jump through hoops today to only fail in their bids later down the line. A short-term fund is no replacement for properly resourced local government.
National Home Building Fund
“It comes as little surprise that housing remains a top priority for the government, and with initial funding of £7.1 billion over the next four years to unlock up to 860,000 new homes, clearly the Chancellor remains committed to funding an ambitious housebuilding programme.
“Today’s announcements reflect that this is a one-year Spending Review, but provide further new money to Homes England to continue a variety of support mechanisms. The Government will need to continue to invest in housing delivery if it is to meet its target of 300,000 homes a year, and it has provided welcome support to ensure that housing delivery continues during the pandemic. That has taken various forms, allowing construction to continue and SDLT relief, for example. Our own statistics show build-to-rent development has been delivering new homes throughout the past year, with a strong pipeline going forward.
“The freezing of the business rates multiplier is welcome additional relief for all businesses, but can only paper over the cracks. We would have liked to see some additional funding commitments for the Valuation Office Agency – to fund the reforms needed for a more modern and responsive business rates system. Business rates are an unsustainable burden on businesses trying to rebuild from the Covid-19 pandemic and the Government must bring forward the results of its fundamental review as soon as possible.”