Both increased property taxes and greater regulation of the housing market were absent from today’s Spring Budget statement by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, agents will be relieved to hear.
But reform of the Stamp Duty system, which has caused huge difficulties for the prime housing market and continues to prevent many thousands of people from moving up and down the property ladder, was also absent.
A handful of important changes were announced, designed to increase the number of new homes to be built in the coming months and years, as well as where and how they are built.
In summary, these include:
- £717 million is to be released from the existing £5.5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund to help build 37,000 homes at several sites including Old Oak Common in London, the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and Cheshire.
- Government to guarantee up to £3 billion of additional borrowing by housing associations and create an additional 30,000 affordable homes.
- New planning guidance to be issued to ensure large housing developments offer a more diverse range of houses following MP Oliver Letwin’s recent review.
- Government to bring in planning reforms to enable greater flexibility when allowing different uses for buildings, and new ‘air rights’ permitted developments rules to encourage roof-top extensions.
- Green paper to be published setting out the government’s plans to speed up and reform the planning process.
- Government is to double the size of the Housing Growth Partnership with Lloyds Banking Group to £220 million, to help provide additional finance for small builders.
- Chancellor says 60,000 first time buyers have now benefitted from his recent decision to abolish Stamp Duty for those buying their first home since it was announced in his Autumn budget statement last year.
TV presenter and MoveIQ founder Phil Spencer (left)says: “Any boon to Britain’s chronic housing shortage is, of course, not to be sniffed at — but the Chancellor’s plans simply do not go far enough.
“Britain needs a long-term, apolitical and impartial plan to build the homes we so desperately need and not short-term soundbites to keep prospective voters happy.”
John Phillips (left), group operations director at Just Mortgages, says: “ We know the housing market is struggling at the moment, so we need to open up incentives for people already on the housing ladder as well as those looking to take their first step in order to get things moving again and give second and third steppers more confidence in making that next move.”
Nick Leeming (left), chairman of Jackson-Stops, says: “The property industry and home movers across the country were once again hoping for some relief in the form of cuts to stamp duty rates on properties in the middle to top end of the market. And once again, we have had no such luck.
“Hammond’s pot of gold, which is set aside to assist with any upset caused by a no-deal Brexit, could have been put to far better use. But instead buyers and second homeowners alike are having to fork out thousands in unwarranted stamp duty costs.”
Paul Smith, CEO of Spicerhaart, says: “Today’s Spring Statement was a slap in the face for the property industry. The current government claims to be determined to fix the broken housing market, but today’s speech was a recital of past announcements and lacked any material attempts for change. Yet another missed opportunity to create a housing market that works for us all.
Mark Hayward (left), Chief Executive of NAEA Propertymark, says: “Demand for housing continues to rise, and the number of new homes currently being built isn’t enough to fill this void.
“Coupled with the fact that the buying and selling process is lengthy and expensive, there’s no incentive for homeowners to move. This means people are staying in their first properties for longer and consequently, there’s a severe lack of affordable housing, so we wholly support the measures announced today.”
Read Hammond’s speech in full.