Date Published 04 November 2018
We have very much become accustomed to the little red box and the chancellors annual readjustment of taxes to stem the tide of our economy in a Robin Hood attempt to typically give more to the poor, taking extra from the rich. Applying this to our Housing crisis what preciously has been announced and how will this fix our housing market?
Within the Budget on 29th October 2018 the chancellor Philip Hammond did accept that measured were required to fix the market, boost prosperity and increase living standards. Encouraging measures though often seen as too little too late. First time buyers buying a home up to £300,000 since last year's budget remain exempt from Stamp Duty. Also the Help to Buy Scheme that was meant to end in 2021 has been extended till 2023 having so far assisted 121,500 people and bringing first time buyers figures up to a 11 year high. Previously exempt of the scheme were ‘shared ownership' properties where a percentage is owed by a third party typically a Housing Association where so much is mortgaged and the remainder rented. Some argued that these too should have also been brought under the scheme last year as they do encourage buyers who cannot obtain full borrowing with a deposit. These are now included and as an added bonus back dated so buyers who own 25% to 75% of their home and rent the rest will receive a windfall on all purchases up to £500,000.
This appears encouraging, yet I ask whether such action will fix the market as is the Governments intentions. First time buyers need more than just assistance with taxes on already overpriced priced properties. What they need is more affordable homes now, not the future. To address this one measure that the Government wished to encourage is town centre living. This will encourage retail zones to have a mixed blend of retail and housing to provide facilities on the door step so to say to sustain our dying high streets. This is particularly noticeable within our cities, as the cities already cater well for developments over shops as the infrastructure, transport hub is typically already in place. However within our rural towns of Stroud, Dursley and Cirencester town centre living brings the major challenges of transport as with rural development we typically still need to rely on the car. A commodity which many in the cities can forgo. An additional £675M has been allocated to assist councils with their main retail zones. Though how much of this money is coming our way is unknown. It is noticeable that many of our town centre properties already have flats above. However this brings challenges in itself as the conversions are typically from Victorian properties lacking amenity space for washing lines, refuse, recycling and cycle storage areas. And we have all seen the consequences of these poor housing consents that have not been properly thought though. A comment echoed by a tweet from Labour MP Helen Hayes who said V concerned to hear chancellor announce plans to simplify process of converting commercial buildings into housing – evidence shows that relaxation of planning regulations so far is creating some of most appalling housing in the country & only benefits rouge landlords.
Other measures include £500m for Housing Infrastructure fund. That our local council can apply for to assist with building 650,000 additional homes. A desire for more small and medium sized enterprises to be building homes via a £1bn British business bank guarantees. A wish to assist 500 neighbourhoods to allocate land for housing at discounted rates and the scrapping of the cap on councils being able to re-invest council house sales into new council housing. Yet with housing building remaining slower than before the 2008 financial crash one remains sceptical…..