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RIBA: 'Where is council housing in Autumn Statement pledges?'

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RIBA president Jane Duncan has criticised the chancellor for not doing enough to allow councils to deliver much-needed new housing in his autumn statement

Although welcoming Phillip Hammond’s pledge to give £1.4 billion towards affordable housing, the RIBA chief said she was ’disappointed’ the government was not entrusting local authorities to build more homes.

She said the chancellor should have allowed councils to ‘borrow to build for social housing’ and provide ‘funding for homes for social rent’.

Duncan added: ‘Both these actions are necessary to ensure that genuinely affordable homes are available for those on low incomes.’

‘[While] the chancellor’s recognition that the housing crisis is causing huge damage to the British economy should be a milestone in our political debate, [the] government needs to go much further to tackle the housing crisis.’

Duncan again called for the drive to build more homes to be incorporated into the role of National Infrastructure Commission. ‘The [£2.3 billion] commitment to support the infrastructure needed to enable house-building is welcome,’ she said, ‘but the government must ensure that all national infrastructure spending maximises opportunities to build housing.

’The RIBA has previously called for housing to be added to the remit of the National Infrastructure Commission and these announcements make the case even stronger. I am disappointed that in highlighting the need to “live within means”, the chancellor did not address the pressing challenge of climate change and urgent need to decarbonise the economy via the new industrial strategy.’

Duncan was also critical of the scale of Hammond’s ‘commitment to devolving power’ to authorities outside London. ‘We need to go further on and faster if we want to truly tackle the challenges that parts of this country face,’ she said.

‘City devolution offers the opportunity to link housing, transport and infrastructure together to create sustainable, thriving healthy and happy communities. It is crucial that, as part of the developing devolution agenda, they are also equipped with the tools to drive up both housing supply and the quality of new homes.’

The RIBA president also highlighted that the ‘most crucial’ element of infrastructure, ‘the bricks and mortar of our existing building stock’, was absent from Hammond’s list of priorities.

‘It is crucial that economic growth is driven, while also addressing national challenges of safeguarding energy security and tackling climate change,’ she said. ‘For this to happen, energy efficiency needs to be fully integrated within the UK’s infrastructure plan to make our housing stock fit for the future.’

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