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Lock-down: property industry says it has the solutions to help ease the crisis

RICS urges government to work with industry to offer solutions to ease the housing and business crisis following last night's lock-down announcement.

Sheila Manchester

RICS is joining with RIBA and RTPI to urge the Prime Minister to include property professionals under its emergency measures – and calls for grants to help surveyors, planners and architects to work from home and stay safe.

The organisations, representing thousands of professionals in surveying, architectural and planning have written to the Prime Minister to offer their help. They have also signed a letter to the Government, calling on ministers to extend emergency measures to include property professionals, as businesses struggle to deal with the impact of the virus. RICS members represent clients with vacant rooms and buildings, so hundreds of empty hotel rooms, flats or commercial space could be repurposed to temporarily house key workers such as NHS staff – so they can be closer to work.

The property sector is straining under the pressure of the coronavirus and the letter asks the PM to act now so surveyors, architects and planners can continue to work, including:

  • Seeking emergency loan funding for all firms in the build environment sector.
  • ‘Fiscal support’ to aid firms to invest in work from home tech
  • Support for lost wages on reduced time or temporarily redundant.

Matthew Howell (RICS UK MD) said: “Whether you’re a chartered surveyor, architect or town planner, the growing coronavirus pandemic is one of the biggest threats to the property industry since the financial crash, and we need serious action now to prevent job losses and businesses shutting down.

“RICS has been supporting its members, including keeping them updated on the changing advice from Government, but we are hearing more support is needed.

“We also stand ready to aid the UK in getting through this together. Our professionals and firms have access to a wide range of buildings that could be utilised by the NHS or other key workers for various purposes. We would be keen to meet with Government to discuss this and ensure the space and any vacant beds are put to good use.”

Alan Vallance (RIBA CEO) said: “This is a critical time for the built environment. Without financial measures to help preserve cash flow and clarity on how the planning system and development control systems will continue to operate, our sector remains at risk.

Victoria Hills (CEO at RTPI) said: 

“Town planners stand ready with all built environment professionals to do what we can to help mitigate this pandemic, and help our country get back to social normality and economic productivity afterwards”

 

March 24, 2020

2 comments

  1. We have raised serious issue with this too -we are Interior Design Practice based in NW3 – Camden advised us yesterday that we are classed as non-retail, and are not eligible for any business rate relief or business grant.
    I have written to PrimeMinister, Chancellor and Local MP.

  2. Do we stay open or do we not? And if we don’t… why no business rates relief?

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