CPRE, the countryside charity, has said that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘mini-Budget’ missed the mark on transport and housing. The Chancellor had been aiming to revive the economy through his A Plan for Jobs mini-Budget, announced earlier this month, but Tom Fyans, CPRE campaigns and policy director, said: “While we have seen promising starts on energy efficiency and shoring up rural hospitality businesses, the Chancellor has missed major opportunities to begin building back better when it comes to transport and housing investment.” Mr Fyans addressed several issues in the mini-Budget: On existing homes: “The £3 billion announced on energy efficiency is a good start but must be swiftly followed by a National Retrofit Strategy that CPRE has been calling for in our new report Greener, Better, Faster and a plan for longer-term investment. Decarbonising our homes and buildings is essential to preventing runaway climate change. We expect to see further investment in reducing emissions from our existing homes via the £9bn for energy-efficiency schemes promised by Boris Johnson in the Conservative Party’s general election manifesto at the end of last year.” On new homes: “We understand the Chancellor wants to reboot the construction sector, but he’s pulling the wrong lever with a Stamp Duty holiday. By investing in social and genuinely affordable housing instead, he could drive up build rates and provide the homes that are so desperately needed, especially in rural areas. We cannot accept that private rentals in nine out of 10 rural areas are unaffordable for care workers. We urge the government to begin investing in homes for our heroes and tackling the housing crisis.” On transport: “Any serious claims to a green recovery are being completely undermined by the out-of-touch £27bn road-building plans that will drive up emissions and will likely not be needed with homeworking on the rise. In the mini-Budget we did not hear one mention of public transport, the low-carbon alternative to the private car that is so desperately needed, especially in disconnected rural areas. We are urging the government to scrap the planned road spending and put this money to much better use. Diverting some of this funding to a dedicated rural transport fund would have a dramatic impact connecting up towns and villages with affordable, convenient and low-carbon public transport.” On rural economies: “The Chancellor was absolutely right to highlight hard-hit rural businesses in the hospitality industry and we welcome the ‘eat out to help out’ vouchers. We can all play our part in supporting local businesses as we emerge from lockdown. Our hope is that these vouchers will help get small rural restaurants, pubs and cafes back on their feet as lockdown eases and holiday season begins, with many of us choosing to go on a staycation here in the UK rather than venturing abroad.”
CPRE, the countryside charity, has given a decidedly hostile response to the prime minister’s post-coronavirus recovery plan in which he promised to “build, build, build”. Boris Johnson’s announcement of a ‘new deal’, delivered in Dudley yesterday (Tuesday, June 30), pledged £5 billion to build homes and infrastructure and vowed to speed up and intensify plans set out in the Tory election manifesto. The UK economy has reportedly shrunk faster between January and March this year than at any time since 1979 and the government proposals are intended to halt that decline. Key features of Johnson’s ‘new deal’, some of which had already been announced, include:
£100 million for 29 road projects
£12 billion to help build 180,000 new affordable homes for ownership and rent over the next eight years
£1.5 billion for hospitals, the removal of mental-health dormitories and improving A&E capacity
More than £1 billion for new school buildings
Tom Fyans, campaigns and policy director at CPRE, made a blistering attack on the prime minister’s scheme: “With road-building at its heart, the PM’s ‘new deal’ makes a mockery of the government’s so-called green recovery. “At this historic moment, the government must show real ambition and build back better, not worse, and in doing so balance our health and well-being, nature and countryside and the economic recovery. “The government cannot continue to ignore the surge in appreciation for green spaces and the public appetite to reduce our carbon emissions. “We must not even begin down this path with plans for £27 billion spending on roads. That money could be much better spent connecting towns and villages with low-carbon public transport, shoring up rural economies and businesses hard hit by the coronavirus and investing in genuinely affordable and well-designed housing. “Furthermore, the PM has pledged to ‘build at the pace that this moment requires’, which strikes fear in the hearts of those who understand the benefits of a plan-led system. “Rushing through potentially poor-quality development is the very antithesis of building back better. We already know, from painful experience, a rush for development trades off quality homes and infrastructure for quick and easy economic growth. “This trade-off isn’t necessary. It’s already far too easy to build poor-quality homes and therefore any plans to deregulate our democratic, locally accountable planning system will take decision-making powers from communities and local councils and hand it to short-sighted developers. “The government can only seriously claim to be pursuing the levelling-up agenda after scrapping planned spend on roads and refocusing planning reforms to deliver for people rather than developers. “Until then, it’s the same old deal.”
Tom Fyans, CPRE deputy chief executive, will be speaking at an open meeting in Kent next month (March).
Tom, who is also national director of campaigns and policy, is giving his talk ‘Why town centre regeneration matters for CPRE, the countryside charity’ at the AGM of the Ashford committee of CPRE Kent on Wednesday, March 6.
The meeting is being held in the function room of Ashford Picturehouse in Elwick Place (TN23 1AE).
As well as learning about the regeneration of Ashford town centre, this is also a chance to look inside the town’s new cinema complex, which hosts six screens, a restaurant, cafe and bar, as well as a spacious foyer and outdoor and indoor seating.
The function room is at the top of the stairs or lift.
For the AGM you can have tea or coffee and biscuits from 11.45am, with the meeting due to run from midday to 1.30pm.
If you’re able to stay a little later, you can buy hot snacks at the foyer counter.
There is ample parking at Elwick Place (£2.20 for two hours).
All are welcome for this event – you do not need to belong to CPRE – but do please let us know in advance if you’re coming: phone Sandra Dunn on 07771 640133 or email email@example.com
Wednesday, February 20, 2019