Posted on Wednesday, April 4, 2018
During March 2018, Chancellor Phillip Hammond delivered his Spring Statement in the House of Commons which provided several updates on the government’s progress towards building more homes in the UK.
There was a number of policies set in motion in November as part of last year’s Autumn Budget, with the government working with 44 areas on their bids for a portion of the £4.1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund which has been created to help build more homes.
Hammond also spoke on where and how part of the £44 billion is now being spent, with the extra cash aiming to take planned affordable housing levels in London to 116,000 by the end of 2021-22.
What’s more, the Housing Growth Partnership – which provides financial support for small housebuilders – is said to have been doubled to £220 million. London is also set to receive £1.7 billion to start building a further 27,000 affordable homes by the end of 2021-22.
One of the prominent policies from last year’s Autumn Budget seems to have had a positive effect. As of late November, all first-time buyer (FTB) purchases up to £300,000 pay no stamp duty, and for FTBs in London (and other more expensive areas) there is no stamp duty to pay on the first £300,000 of their purchase. According to Hammond, an estimated 60,000 FTBs have already benefitted from this change so far.
Despite the uncertainty that continues to surround the housing market, the Chancellor claimed the government is committed to ‘building the homes that our people need’ – the Government has now given the West Midlands council £100 million for 215,000 new homes by 2030-31.
Other key elements of the Statement included the government raising the National Living Wage to £7.83 in April 2018 – worth an extra £600 a year for full-time workers. Transport in the UK is also expected to see some change, with £1.7 billion announced for improving transport in English cities – an advantage for those living near travel hotspots.
Several property commentators have had their say on the Spring Statement - Neil Cobbold of PropTech firm PayProp described it as a ‘missed opportunity’.
“One issue that is potentially being overlooked is affordable housing in the private rental sector,” he said. “It could be beneficial to move away from the notion that everyone wants to buy a home, embrace the rental revolution and work out how to provide more high-quality, affordable rental housing.”
On the general approach of the Spring Statement, Peter Walker, political correspondent for the Guardian, commented: “Speculation about Hammond’s future is something of a constant given his unpopularity with many pro-Brexit Tories, but this was a confident chancellor who feels his approach is being vindicated by some good news – even if it might not feel that way too many around the country.”
Hammond has promised to keep major policy changes for the next Autumn Budget taking place later this year in November.