Clear EU plan can help tackle chronic housing shortage, says RICS

Jeremy Blackburn
Jeremy Blackburn

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has praised the Scottish Government for “taking the lead” in providing the reassurance needed to tackle the country’s chronic housing shortage and infrastructure deficit.

Responding to a paper examining proposals to keep Scotland in the European Single Market, which was published yesterday by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the RICS called on the UK government to do what it can to minimise the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.

Jeremy Blackburn, RICS head of policy, said: “Like the UK as a whole, Scotland is facing a chronic housing shortage and infrastructure deficit which requires a highly skilled and sizable construction sector, if we are to tackle both challenges simultaneously. Access to labour will ensure continued admission for a skilled workforce; this in turn resources development projects; which can benefit from the flow of investment that is reassured by clear plans for this major transition.

“We need reassurance that workforce migration will be addressed as a priority and it must not be allowed to impact on the attractiveness of the UK for investment, or as a place where major corporate and industrial occupiers want to do business.

“Uncertainty over the negotiation and the UK’s future relationship with the EU must be minimised by laying out a clear timeline and set of ambitions. Given their role in the economy, property and construction require stability, clarity and certainty. First Ministers in the devolved nations are expected to play their part in providing this reassurance. In setting out its proposals, the Scottish Government has taken a lead in providing its preferred future relationship with the EU. We hope that the details of these ambitions are matched by the Prime Minister when publishing the UK’s plan, ahead of triggering Article 50 next year.”

Publishing Scotland’s Place in Europe, Ms Sturgeon said: “A hard Brexit, taking us out of the EU and the Single Market, could have a devastating effect on jobs, investment and standards of living, with research suggesting up to 80,000 jobs lost in Scotland and earnings per head £2,000 lower after a decade.

“Today’s paper from the Scottish Government is aimed at avoiding that outcome. Scotland’s Place in Europe is a set of proposals that are detailed and serious, but given the Scottish government’s belief that independence within the EU is the best option for Scotland, they are also a significant compromise on our part.

“A material constitutional change has occurred since 2014, and that is why the option of independence must remain on the table – without that option, Scotland would simply have to accept the inevitability of whatever decisions the UK government makes, no matter how damaging they are to Scotland’s interests. However, independence is not the focus of the paper I am publishing today.”

She added: “We want the UK government to make clear when it triggers Article 50 that it intends to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union. If it will not do so, we want the UK government to seek, as part of its negotiation, a differentiated solution for Scotland as set out here.”

Tags: RICS

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