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Sunak’s Spending Review – Industry Reactions

Sunak’s Spending Review – Industry Reactions
26 November 2020
 

As the Chancellor announced an allocation of £55 billion to help tackle the virus in 2021, what were the reactions from the facilities and workplace management sector?

Delivering the Spending Review on 25 November, Rishi Sunak said his immediate priority was to protect people’s lives and livelihoods, allocating £55 billion to tackle the virus next year.

Sunak also set out how the government would deliver stronger public services, with core day-to-day departmental spending growing by £14.8 billion in cash terms next year compared to 2020/21.

The Chancellor also announced how the government would deliver the next stages of its investment plans in infrastructure to drive the UK’s recovery, with £100 billion of capital spending next year and a £4 billion Levelling Up Fund.

 

4bn Levelling up Fund

 

Keith Hardman, Cushman and Wakefield’s Head of UK Development commented that the announcement to create a UK Infrastructure Bank and a £4bn Levelling up Fund is very welcome:

“Behind these headlines however, the government has published the review and important revisions to the Green Book and the technical guidance this provides as to how public spending and investment is appraised.

In the review there is a clear acknowledgement that much greater emphasis needs to be placed on wider economic and strategic outputs, social value and environmental benefits. 

This is positive as it presents a more balanced way of assessing the broader impact of public sector investment. The revisions to the approach will benefit those areas of the country which the previous appraisal approach has fundamentally failed - the review references how the current appraisal process risks undermining the government’s ambition to level up. The changes should help unlock sites for new development across a much broader geography and especially around emerging and green technologies.”

 

Keith Hardman

Picture: a photograph of Keith Hardman

 

Green Office Technology Loans?

 

Robin Davies of workplace technology company, Freespace, believes businesses who occupy offices should be given green office technology loans to help achieve net-zero and support the return to work:

Net zero or zero carbon emission is a bold but necessary ambition for us all if we are going to safeguard our environment for future generations. New investment in carbon capture technology will also remove 10m/t of CO2 from the UK environment every year up to 2030.

"Based on data produced by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers every 1,000sqft of office space used is the equivalent to a carbon footprint of 91t C02 per annum. If workplace sensor technology was applied across all workplaces in the UK, over 2.4m tonnes of C02 could be saved annually. 

“That represents nearly 25 per cent of the government’s own carbon capture target and is equivalent to nearly 1 per cent of the total carbon footprint of the entire UK. I truly believe businesses who occupy offices should be offered green office technology loans to help achieve net-zero and support the return to work.”

 

Spending Review

Picture: a graphic from HM Treasury stating "Spending Review 2021/22"

 

Chancellor’s £12m for Planning “Woefully Inadequate”, says RTPI

 

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has cautiously welcomed commitments in the government’s spending review to level up the country and invest in homebuilding.

But the Institute has also expressed disappointment that just £12 million has been allocated to take forward its planning reform agenda, just 10 per cent of what is required.

Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the RTPI, said: “While we understand the impact the pandemic has had on the country’s public finances, the government will not be able to achieve its ambitions to radically overhaul the planning system without adequate investment in local authorities.

“While we welcome the £4 billion Levelling Up fund and the £7.1 billion National Homebuilding fund, we are concerned that local democracy is once again being disenfranchised. Encouraging a bidding culture impacts on the ability for long term planning, creates winners and losers and requires resourcing to apply for.”

Hills welcomed the publication of the National Infrastructure Strategy but again called for spending on national infrastructure to be firmly linked into local infrastructure and housing.

“National infrastructure objectives require a place-based approach to exploit synergies between sectors including energy, transport and digital, flood defences and green infrastructure, and to coordinate delivery for maximum efficiency. This is a role for planning in the broadest sense.

“Furthermore, city-regions need a robust understanding of their infrastructure need to enable the proposed National Infrastructure Bank to channel public/private sector investment to support delivery.”  

Picture: a graphic showing an arm, some bank notes and a lightbulb

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 26 November 2020

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