The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has called on the government to support retrofitting and infrastructure development and include a commitment to accessible supports for SMEs in the July Jobs Stimulus.

The Programme for Government contains ambitious targets on retrofitting to upgrade at least 500,000 homes to a B2 by 2030. In order to drive the delivery of this target, encourage homeowners to invest in retrofitting and to engage construction professionals in undertaking this work, the RIAI is asking the Government to consider introducing a reduced VAT rate on costs associated with retrofitting of homes and on services supplied by a qualified professional relating to assessment of retrofitting of homes.

Kathryn Meghen, CEO of the RIAI, said: “The RIAI is keen to avoid the experience following the recent recession when the construction sector was decimated and took a long time to recover. For that reason, the RIAI asks that the Investment Projects and Programmes Office in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform continue to commission the feasibility, design and planning stages of essential infrastructural projects identified in Project Ireland 2040. This will allow construction professions to continue working, to maintain staff in employment and ensure that projects proceed to site as planned.”

In addition, the RIAI is calling on public agencies and local authorities to develop short-term work schemes to improve the public spaces in our cities, towns and villages and to address balanced regional development by moving the focus on growth to regions other than the greater Dublin area.

The RIAI is also highlighting the negative impact on employment in SMEs that the removal of the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy would have, particularly on businesses that are facing reduced revenues and cash flow issues for the foreseeable future. The Institute has called for a commitment to retaining the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy until the end of 2020 and for a simplification of available Government supports.

Kathryn Meghen added: “The majority of architectural practices are small and medium enterprises and the range of supports available to SMEs in light of the COVID-19 challenges has been very welcome. However, the sheer number of supports and the means to access both information regarding qualifying criteria and the ways to apply, is overly complex. Businesses need a simplification of the Government supports available to SMEs and a one-stop shop for access.”

Denise Maguire        
Editor of Plan Magazine