The Budget - Housing highlights
With the Chancellor's promise of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, will the range of measures signalled in last week's Budget be enough to achieve that ambitious target?
With the Chancellor's promise of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, will the range of measures signalled in last week's Budget be enough to achieve that ambitious target? The UK last built 300,000 new homes in 1977 when local authorities were at the forefront of development, with almost half of new builds constructed by councils.
The Government's emphasis clearly remains focused on meeting the aspirations of prospective homeowners with a number of substantial measures aimed at improving the affordability and delivery of homes for sale. Perhaps there were fewer measures than may have been expected for the social rented sector – although a further statement has been trailed in respect of Council permissions for affordable housing and further details of the £44 billion financial package may reveal further support.
Oliver Letwin, MP for West Dorset, was tasked with a review of the "planning gap" (the gap between the grant of planning permission and the homes built under that permission). It will be interesting to see the results of that review.
The Government has promised to lift the Housing Revenue Account debt cap which would free up local authorities to build the housing needed. But the statement confirms that the debt caps will only be lifted in areas of high affordability pressures. A £1 billion cap on this additional HRA borrowing capacity by 2020/2021 has been provided. Councils are going to be asked to bid for this additional borrowing capacity. Will this lead to a renaissance in Council house building?
The planned programme of intensive support for rough sleepers proposed by the Housing First initiative to identify and assist those in private rented sector who are at risk of homelessness will be funded by £28 million allocated for projects in Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands combined with the £20 million funding allocated in the Budget. These are positive steps to start to address the significant homelessness problem that is particularly prevalent in our cities