Institute desribes housing funding as a “drop in the ocean” and laments lack of a retrofit strategy 

RIBA president Muyiwa Oki has dubbed chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget a “missed opportunity” for the built environment and described the funding announced for new homes as a “drop in the ocean”.

Hunt this afternoon took more than an hour to deliver what is widely expected to be his last budget before the next general election to a highly-charged House of Commons.

The chancellor’s spending plans included more than £240m to build nearly 8,000 homes in east London – at Barking Riverside and Canary Wharf, alongside a new life sciences hub. 

Muyiwa Oki cropped

Muyiwa Oki

Hunt also announced a £20m investment in social finance to build up to 3,000 community-led homes and £4m for the Euston Housing Delivery Group to support plans to deliver up to 10,000 new homes around the HS2 terminus.

However Oki said the budget was focused on the looming general election and household budgets, rather than the longer-term challenges facing the nation.

“The government has lost sight of the bigger picture and missed a key moment to improve our buildings – especially our homes,” he said. “A weak economy, housing crisis and climate emergency demand urgent attention.

“Millions of substandard, ageing homes are leaking energy and money. The government must bring forward a National Retrofit Strategy – a well-funded programme to boost the green economy, cut emissions and lower people’s energy bills.

“Today’s investment in new housing is welcome, but it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed. Without more support, we will fail to deliver the number of high-quality, sustainable homes and places the country needs.

“A simplified, well-resourced planning system will not only address housing challenges, but boost sustainable development, grow the economy, and make people healthier and happier. It’s essential and long overdue.”