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Rics urges chancellor to boost construction

Leaders at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) have urged chancellor George Osborne to use this week's Budget announcement to support the construction industry.

Mr Osborne will outline where public money will be spent on March 20th and building contractors are hoping that he gives them a timely boost.

According to Rics, the government has not yet delivered on the promises made in last year's Autumn Statement to free up more investment for house building developments. The organisation stated that initiatives such as the Regional Growth Fund and Get Britain Building have made little difference to the industry as yet.

Rics has also called for the Funding for Lending scheme - which enables house buyers to borrow money at affordable rates - to be extended, as there have already been a few signs that the system is working well.

In addition to this, the body wants greater clarity over Local Enterprise Partnerships and Empty Property Rate exemptions, more transparency on when and how builders can apply for financial support and the promotion of public sector construction contracts.

Rics chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said it makes sense for Mr Osborne to commit more funds towards house building, as every £1 invested results in £2.80 worth of economic benefits.

"We have seen promises of funding and cheaper borrowing from the government but we now need to see evidence that it's actually getting through to the firms and projects that need it," he remarked.

Mr Rubinsohn added that the authorities should take heart from the early success of the Funding for Lending initiative too.

Last week, the body released its UK Construction Policy, which sets out ways to increase activity in the building sector over the next 12 months.

Rics chiefs said that greater transparency is needed in government building contracts if small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are to flourish. The organisation has also recommended that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills sets up one easy-to-use portal that allows SMEs to see how they can get access to finance. 

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