Prime minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to build the “foundations for a better future” in the King’s speech failed to mention addressing the country’s decline in housebuilding. 

The construction industry was dissatisfied the speech omitted legislation to overhaul nutrient pollution laws estimated to be holding up 150,000 new homes in river catchment areas. 

Federation of Master Builders chief executive Brian Berry said: “It is disappointing that there was nothing of note to address the alarming decline in housebuilding rates across the country nor any new plans to improve the nation’s draughty and leaky homes.” 

The Royal Institute of British Architects, RIBA, described the speech’s failure to address the housing crisis and climate emergency as a ‘missed opportunity’. 

RIBA president Muyiwa Oki criticised proposed legislation on the future licensing of new oil and gas fields.  

“The emphasis placed on increasing energy supply, rather than adopting a national retrofit strategy to reduce energy demand, feels misguided,” he said.  

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said it was disappointed the government had moved away from its commitment to introduce higher energy-efficiency standards for rented homes. 

“There should have been an announcement to reform energy performance certificate methodology, given the independent review into net zero’s recommendation to introduce new energy standards based on a new energy measurement system.” 

The UK Green Building Council said the government had failed to address energy waste from homes and buildings that are fuelling the cost of living and climate crises. 

Policy and public affairs head Louise Hutchins said: “Formally pulling the plug on minimum energy efficiency standards for private rented homes will condemn millions of people living in fuel poverty to continue enduring cold, mouldy homes. 

“As we hurtle towards climate disaster, opening up new oil and gas extraction while failing to deal with the huge demand from gas heating in buildings will only take us further off-course from the net zero future we so desperately need.” 

Regeneration of towns lacks detail 

The speech’s reference to regenerate downs across the UK offered a glimmer of hope for the building industry. 

Mr Berry said: “Reference to plans to regenerate towns across the UK is promising but without the detail, the jury is still out about whether this will benefit local builders. 

“A clear commitment from government to engage with SMEs would have helped provide more assurance at a time when enquiries for new building work are falling by as much as 40 per cent.” 

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders were keen to see more support for SMEs in any future regeneration plans. 

Mr Berry said that the new advanced British standard qualification with its focus on enhancing skills and vocational training was “encouraging”. 

“This has long been an issue of great importance to SME builders looking to recruit staff and grow their businesses.” 

The government is expected to launch a consultation this month with a white paper next year on the new system which seeks to replace A-levels and T Levels with one single qualification. 

Other legislative initiatives include banning ‘no fault’ evictions and reforming leasehold legislation making it easier to extend a lease or buy the freehold. 

Photo by Tom Rumble on Unsplash  

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Shiraz Khan