A REDUCTION in the rate of VAT, more help for home-buyers and investment in the rental sector are just some changes being called for in 2010 by David Potter, operations director at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in the East of England

A REDUCTION in the rate of VAT, more help for home-buyers and investment in the rental sector are just some changes being called for in 2010 by David Potter, operations director at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in the East of England.

After 12 turbulent months in the construction industry, Mr Potter has outlined the 10 changes his organisation hopes to see in 2010.

1. The recession - "While interest rates look set to stay low during 2010, further action is required by both Government and banks to help stabilise the market, including looking at the current rates of VAT."

"A five percent reduction in the VAT on the repair and maintenance of buildings would have helped to bolster activity in the construction sector - an industry that has been particularly hard-hit during the recession."

2. Empty property rates - "This tax has had a hugely negative impact on commercial property investment and regeneration. If empty property rates are not scrapped, then there should be a minimum period of 12-18 months before they have to be paid."

3. HIPS - "There is still work to do to improve public perception of HIPS as a value-added service, rather than being seen as another costly hindrance to the house-buying process."

4. Assistance for home buyers - "The temporary removal of stamp duty for houses under £175,000 helps first time buyers but more needs to be done to aid all home buyers.

"Activity such as converting residential stamp duty to a marginal rate system and mortgage indemnity guarantees would be a step in the right direction."

5. Rental sector - "The private rented sector plays a crucial role in increasing housing supply and needs to be protected from world economic conditions. Long-term institutional investment in the private rented sector should be encouraged."

6. Promoting sustainability - "The focus should be on actions that have a significant impact in a short period of time, such as insulation of homes. Implementing a feed-in tariff system, successful in other countries, encourages take-up of small-scale renewable energy regeneration such as solar panels and wind turbines."

7. Tackling mortgage liquidity - "Tackling mortgage liquidity through the issue of new mortgage-backed security and covered bonds to give investors the confidence to return to the market.

"Chartered surveyors working with estate agents in the housing market still indicate that access to finance - mortgages - is the biggest problem facing would-be buyers. "Banks have tightened their requirements, although the number of products available is increasing."

8. Investment in skills - "To foster skills in planning and construction through training and to see more property professionals advising local and national government."

9. Co-ordinated infrastructure investment - "A joined-up approach is essential in helping our economy to grow and build upon the green shoots of recovery. This will help deliver new homes, thus helping to eradicate the current problems of under-supply in the housing market."

10. RICS awards - "To celebrate the region's outstanding projects in building conservation, regeneration, sustainability and community engagement through the annual RICS Awards.