Autumn Statement 2016

Phillip Hammond has delivered his first Autumn Statement as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Compared to recent budgets and statements there was relatively little directly affecting the housing market though we did get two further housing initiatives announced:

·         Widely predicted funding targeted at affordable housing schemes, for rent and ownership.  The £1.4bn is expected to support 40,000 housing starts by 2020-21.  

·         A new Housing Infrastructure Fund supplying £2.3bn by 2020-21 to local government, to facilitate more house building in high demand areas where lack of local infrastructure holds back potential development. So this is intended to make life easier for developers and is expected to support up to 100,000 new homes.  

It is hoped that this will help increase housing supply and halt the decline in housing affordability and the government also plans to publish a Housing White Paper shortly.

These are the latest in a long line of schemes over recent years and all will take time to deliver (the Starter Homes Initiative, announced in late 2014, for example, is apparently still yet to start), so just as welcome is the confirmation of £1.7bn – again over the next four years – for the accelerated construction scheme intended to speed up builds on public sector land. 
There was good news for renters too with the banning of letting agent fees, which could save tenants several hundred pounds when moving or even renewing their contract.  

There is a danger of course that agents may try to recoup that lost income from landlords (who will already be feeling squeezed by higher tax bills), and ultimately drive rents up. However reports from Scotland, where such fees have been banned for a while, suggest the impact has been minor and overall tenants are better off so it’s to be hoped we see something similar here. 

The ban doesn’t come in immediately and there will be consultation before legislation is produced, so tenants shouldn’t start spending their extra money just yet.   

 

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