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Residential & Housing

Autumn Budget 2017 – Steps in the right direction?

Whenever the infamous red briefcase makes an appearance, there is always a collective holding of breaths as the chancellor delivers his budget to parliament and we discover what effects this will have on us as individuals, consumers and business owners.

For those of us involved in the residential sector, the recent Autumn budget (22nd November 2017) made for positive reading as the chancellor announced £44 billion of expenditure for housing over the next 5 years, through capital funding, loans and guarantees to enhance housebuilding to 300,000 homes a year.

The abolishment of stamp duty on all first time buyer purchases up to £300,000 and on the first £300,000 of homes up to £500,000 will also come as a welcome relief to younger generations who might finally see house ownership as a reality as opposed to a distant, far-fetched dream.  However, the buoyant housing market and increased cost of property is still likely to be prohibitive to many first time buyers but it is at least a small step in the right direction.

However in the interest of balance and perspective, Lewis Johnston – Parliamentary Affairs Manager at RICS – responding to the budget suggests that despite the budget revealing “small but positive steps”, we should remain cautious with regards to the support pledged and that “housing supply needs an almighty shove not just a nudge” in order to tackle the housing problem.

The pledged £44 billion package of housing support seems positive, but it does not represent the kind of comprehensive strategy we need"

The pledged £44 billion package of housing support seems positive, but it does not represent the kind of comprehensive strategy we need, nor is it clear how much of this figure is made up of previously announced policies. Most of the announced measures are also only due to come in in 2019/2020 instead of having an immediate impact, and the Chancellor stated that we would not be building the 300,000 new homes a year until the mid 2020s, leaving the country to wait at least eight years.

One thing is for certain.  The need and demand for housing has never been greater in the UK so it is positive that tackling this “complex challenge” is high on the government’s agenda.  Whether the outlined strategy is robust enough to alleviate the crisis over the coming years remains to be seen, but for now let’s hope these “small but positive steps” at least give us a platform on which to build and shape a brighter housing sector in the future.