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RIBA calls for building design to come first in Budget

The RIBA is calling for a Budget that puts building design at the forefront of drives to improve health and education, and wants the government to get tough on the European Commission.

The biggest issue for the chancellor on 17 April is the government's vow to improve public services, said the RIBA's head of government relations Jonathan Labrey. This must be matched with more funds for construction and a greater emphasis on its quality.

'Ministerial design champions need closer engagement with the design process because there is a lack of trackability of money, and the champions have no control, ' he said.

'Gap funding', where the government gives grants to firms to build on brownfield land, must be reinstated, he added. The EC outlawed this on the grounds that state subsidies conflicted with the single European market.

The government was in talks with the EC and needed to press home the case for its reintroduction much harder, said Labrey.He repeated the call for equalisation of VAT at five per cent for new build and refurbishment, to encourage regeneration of existing buildings. Labrey condemned the government's failure to research the VAT issue despite calls for an overhaul by its own architecture champion Lord Rogers in his report, Towards an Urban Renaissance.

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