Commenting on the impact that the Comprehensive Spending Review, as announced by Chancellor George Osborne, is likely to have on the architectural profession, Christopher Littlemore, CEO of Archial, one of the country’s largest architectural practices, said:
“Every architecture practice undertaking public works in the UK will be affected by the CSR Review. Those aspiring to continue to find work in the public sector will have to think creatively to identify innovative ways of achieving clients’ goals and seeking solutions to their various challenges. At Archial, for example, we have been focusing on identifying alternative funding sources and developing dual-use (public and private) buildings.
“The Chancellor might claim that the 19% average cuts to departmental budgets were less severe than expected, but the reality is that, over a four year period, this CSR will see almost 500,000 public sector jobs cut, the local government budget reduced by 27%, social housing by 71%, culture down 24%, transport down 21%, energy and climate down 18.7% and defence down 7.5%.
“The Chancellor’s commitment to investing £30bn in transport and infrastructure and the protection of NHS spending, which will rise year on year over the period over and above inflation, are to be welcomed, as is his £15.8bn commitment to maintaining the school estate in England over the next four years.
“However, capital spending on schools is to be severely reduced – from £7.5bn per annum to £3.4bn by 2014/15 – reflecting the demise of the Building Schools for the Future programme. This suggests that the Chancellor is committing money to spend within schools rather than providing the necessary, and long overdue, investment in building new schools or refurbishing existing buildings. This is of particular concern to architects active in the education sector, and of course to pupils, parents and teachers coping with premises which are at best outdated and at worst dangerous.
“The Chancellor stated that the proportion of spending on affordable/social housing is to be sourced through freeing up rental control (increasing rents) for new tenants and by allowing social landlords to privately fund investments. The commitment to meeting the target of 150,000 new affordable homes over the period is to be maintained.
“Not only does the figure of 150,000 new affordable homes fall far short of the number needed, but maintaining that commitment is going to be very tough to achieve. Given the extent of public sector job cuts and the inevitable broader economic impact of this CSR, I’m at a loss to explain how new tenants will be able to afford increased rents, particularly with VAT set to rise 2.5% to 20%.”
Part of the privately held Ingenium Group, Archial is an international architectural specialist with public and private-sector clients. Its diverse portfolio includes work in corporate, education, government, healthcare, industrial, mixed-use, residential, retail and transport sectors and it employs approximately 300 employees in offices throughout England and Scotland. The award winning Archial organisation has been known for delivering intelligent solutions that combine creative excellence with commercial success.
Delivering global building solutions, the 900 employees of the privately held Ingenium Group of companies offer an extensive range of architectural, engineering, land use and development planning, interior design, project management, construction, design-build and partnership services through offices in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Middle East, and Asia. It has a broad and diverse portfolio of completed work within the commercial, government, transportation and lifestyle sectors, comprising some of the largest building projects in the world. The Ingenium Group member company brands include Archial, Alsop Sparch, NORR, Giffels, CION and Westpro. For more information: www.theingeniumgroup.com.
For further information please contact Susan Christie 0141 561 4018 or Judith Kelly on 07875 434748
Issued on behalf of Archial by Liquorice Media tel 0141 561 4018 www.liquorice-media.com
Date 21 October 2010