Budget 2017 - Housebuilding at the forefront

22nd November 2017

In the many years I have worked in housebuilding, I cannot recall a time where there has been such strong public and political determination to build more homes. The announcements today look set to work towards Theresa May’s ‘personal mission’ to fix the housing market.

John Anderson - Executive Director

In the many years I have worked in housebuilding, I cannot recall a time where there has been such strong public and political determination to build more homes.

The announcements today look set to work towards Theresa May’s ‘personal mission’ to fix the housing market.

I welcome the commitment to inject £44bn albeit the detail around how that money is going to be spent need some thought.

The Chancellors commitment to building 300,000 homes a year by the mid 2020’s and abolishment of stamp duty for first time buyers purchasing homes up to £300,000 are both welcome stimulus to the market and that combined with the extension of Help to Buy will help those currently struggling to get on to the property ladder.

It is encouraging to see the government listening to the sector, and being responsive whilst recognising that the solution to increasing housebuilding isn’t a simple one. As the Chancellor has said on previous occasions there is no silver bullet. Changes to stamp duty are welcome for those wanting to buy a home, but it was also key for the Chancellor to give Local Authorities a key boost.

Today’s announcement on the lifting of the Housing Revenue Account Borrowing cap to allow for more investment in residential property is something I’ve championed previously and is welcomed given that housebuilding by local authorities was restricted under Margaret Thatcher and just 1,890 homes were constructed in 2015-16.

A report released last week by the Association of Retained Council Housing and the National Federation of ALMO has said that lifting the HRA borrowing caps would deliver at least 15,000 new homes and Government has committed to review depending on demand, so I would call on all local authorities to use this window for discussion.

I anticipate that we’ll see the increased remit of the new Homes England and their interventionist approach to help support Local Authorities with the greatest need in making their case to agree new freedoms with Whitehall. It’s encouraging to see that some Local Authorities have been working to help shape this new approach with Government.

We have experience in working with some of these forward thinking local authorities such as Stoke on Trent to build the first council houses in 30 years and pioneer the £1 homes initiative and it’s reassuring to hear that they are one of the first to be looking at this.

Today’s budget is a welcome step forward, housebuilding is now at the forefront of this governments plans and as an industry we must now respond. I welcome these new plans and whilst it won’t be without challenges, we now have a real opportunity to deliver homes for all and leave a lasting footprint on this country.

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