We really don’t expect this chancellor to be pulling rabbits out of hats for the housing sector. Indeed it can be argued that the gifts to the sector have already been announced. Firstly the new commitment to a CPI plus 1% increase in rents from 2020-2025, then the removal of the rent cap and on top of that an extra £2bn to spend through an increase in the Affordable Homes Programme.
However, the NHF don’t think they are going far enough and as part of their three key “asks” of government have put forward removing “the biggest regulatory burden hampering the sector – government control over housing association rents”
The NHF have also called for the inclusion of “housing in the remit of the National Infrastructure Commission” and that Government should “ensure land is locally coordinated, fairly sold and designated for housing in advance”. This is a call we are very happy to support. We have been promoting CHIC’s volumetric housing solution to the HCA and believe that land in public ownership is a great place to get the first homes underway but we need to be given a jump start opportunity to access land quickly.
The Federation has a final “ask” and called for regeneration to be put at the heart of the modern industrial strategy and for a more flexible approach to government investment that supports regeneration”. It is clear that there are two opportunities linked to regeneration, firstly to vastly improve the homes, public realm and places where our customers live and secondly to increase density but not at the expense of quality.
We have, of course also been given the welcome news that the planned LHA rates will not be applied to social housing. The Prime Minister in announcing that change of policy said “I can also say today that as part of our response to the review we will not apply the local housing allowance cap to supported housing,” she said. “Indeed, we will not be implementing it in the wider social rented sector. The full details will be made available when we publish our response to the consultation.”
So what is left for the Chancellor to deliver? Well, what about Shelters big three asks, “to re-align Local Housing Allowance rates with the 30th percentile of local rents; to honour the commitment to reform Compulsory Purchase; and to follow through with proposed changes on viability to the National Planning Policy Framework” They all look like sensible demands to us.
It looks like there might be changes to stamp duty to assist affordability for first time buyers and also to reduce or remove stamp duty for older homeowners to encourage people to downsize and free up homes for younger families.
Also widely rumoured and to some extent pre trailed by allowing an increase for the police and prison officers is a removal of the 1% pay increase cap for public sector workers. This would have an immediate impact on our colleagues working for local authorities.
A slightly off beam thought relating to diesel. It looks like further taxes will be imposed on diesel cars but probably not vans. But with pollution charging in London and coming to other large cities it is clear that diesel is going to be under more pressure, more quickly than might have been thought a year or so ago. So now is the time to think about changing your van fleet to electric, fewer pollutants and lower lifetime costs according to the stats we have seen.
Finally you may also be wondering if the Voluntary Right to Buy policy is going to make a reappearance. We don’t think so, that one is still in the long grass and not about to reappear any