During the Budget, Philip Hammond’s housing announcements came thick and fast.
So, what should we make of them? Do they go far enough, or was it just political smoke and mirrors?
First, it has been clear, from the housing white paper to the Conservative Party conference and now today’s Budget, that there is ongoing resolve from this government to fix Britain’s broken housing market.
Huge strides have already been taken, and the chancellor today offered a raft of measures that should be another shot in the arm for housing. Day-by-day, the pieces of the housing jigsaw are falling into place, but we are not quite there yet.
New capital funding of £15.3bn and investment in construction skills to increase delivery to 300,000 homes a year is very welcome, but we need to see and unpick the detail.
The stamp duty cut is great news for homebuyers and great news for housebuilders, but home ownership remains out of reach for many. The average income of an L&Q social housing resident is £14,000. Alongside initiatives to help first-time buyers we need to see major investment in secure affordable rented housing.
For existing residents, we are particularly pleased with the £1.5bn package for universal credit changes. There have quite rightly been serious concerns about these reforms, and the measures announced today will go some way to easing them.
It was also heartening to see significant measures announced that will support local authorities in meeting local housing need.
Lifting borrowing caps to build more council housing in “high-demand areas”, grants for strategic infrastructure, funding to regenerate housing estates and unlock strategic sites for development, and giving powers to charge 100% council tax premium on empty properties should help local authorities address their various housing challenges.
On the whole, I believe today’s Budget sends further strong signals about the government’s determination fix Britain’s broken housing market, which is underpinned by a personal commitment from the prime minister.
L&Q will enable the delivery of 100,000 new homes over the next ten years, and we stand ready to work in partnership with government and our local authority partners to identify the missing pieces of the puzzle and make long-term decisions that will lead to shared success.
David Montague, chief executive, L&Q