INSIDE HOUSING/SOCIAL HOUSING
The £1.4bn of affordable homes cash is additional to the £4.7bn previously announced, with the restrictions limiting that funding to homeownership products lifted. The government had trailed its plans to provide £1.4bn of cash for 40,000 new affordable homes of multiple tenures, including rent, before the Autumn Statement today.
But detailed documents published alongside the Statement reveal the relaxed restrictions on funding will apply to the current Affordable Housing Programme, while the £1.4bn is new cash.
This follows concerted lobbying since the EU referendum by the housing sector, with the National Housing Federation making an unprecedented pledge to deliver more homes if the government relaxed restrictions.
Vicky Pryce (economist and business consultant) and Terrie Alafat CBE (chief executive, Chartered Institute of Housing) and other key housing figures will discuss what the impact of the Autumn Statement will be for the sector. You can take part and shape a report which will be distributed to central and local government.
CORNWALL ENERGY – industry specific
Autumn Statement 2016: documents
The Autumn Statement was, despite much preceding media speculation to the contrary, light on energy announcements. Expected decisions on the future of the Carbon Price Floor and the Levy Control Framework into the next decade have been deferred. Meanwhile, the government has not reached a decision on whether it will take further actions to intervene in the retail energy market, though it will look closely at the sector over the coming months (Andy Mower Editor, 23rd November 2016).
The Autumn Statement noted that, over the next 15 years, more than £100bn of private investment was expected in the energy sector.
However, contrary to earlier expectations, the government has not made a decision on the future of the Levy Control Framework beyond the end of the decade. It said that this would instead be detailed in next year’s Budget. The government will also continue to engage with stakeholders while it develops an Emissions Reduction Plan, which it set to be published at the beginning of next year.
The statement re-affirmed the existing commitment to maintain the cap on Carbon Price Support rates at £18/ tonne, uprating this with inflation in 2020-21. The government will “continue to consider the appropriate mechanism for determining the carbon price in the 2020s”.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said that the government retained its belief that competitive markets benefited consumers by providing them with more choice and lower prices. However, in line with prime minister Theresa May’s comments at the Conservative Party’s autumn conference, Hammond said that, where markets failed and competition appeared inadequate, the government would remain ready to intervene. A Green Paper, published next spring, will closely examine markets that “are not working fairly for consumers”.
To ensure a stable tax regime to maximise economic recovery in the North Sea, the government re-committed to its long-term Driving Investment plan for the oil and gas ring-fence fiscal regime. It said it would seek to simplify the reporting process and reduce the administrative costs of Petroleum Revenue Tax for oil and gas companies.
Further funding to support the development of cleaner vehicles was confirmed. Another £390mn will be invested by 2020-21 to support ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs), renewable fuels and connected and autonomous vehicles. This includes £80mn for ULEV charging infrastructure.
The statement confirmed plans—following a consultation—to ensure local communities share in the benefits of shale production through a Shale Wealth Fund. This will provide up to £1bn of additional resources to local communities, over and above industry schemes and other sources of government funding.
Autumn Statement 2016: As it happened
With increasingly unaffordable house prices, the majority of British households will be relying on the rental sector in the future. Now it seems that through the relaxation on grants to deliver a wider range of housing types, Hammond will drive an affordable rental agenda and can get Britain building in a way that benefits a cross section of society, not just the fortunate few.
The Chancellor delivered on his theme of a fiscal recalibration rather than reset. The previous fiscal framework of a surplus, reduced debt and welfare cap were all redefined to acknowledge notable downward revisions in the economic outlook. Unlike his predecessors, Mr Hammond eschewed fiscal acrobatics and toed the line on fiscal prudence and sustainability. Additional modest spending was earmarked for raising productivity via targeted investments in infrastructure, R&D and housing. This leaves room for more contingent fiscal stimulus in the year or two ahead when it may be needed to support a weaker UK economy.
Jeffrey Matsu, RICS Senior Economist
Chancellor should avoid the pitfalls made by his predecessors. Britain’s landlords have the potential to be the solution to our housing crisis, not the cause. It is simplistic to suggest that they must pick up letting agency charges when we are in urgent need of more landlords entering the market. Government must strike the right balance between allowing credible, regulated letting agencies to recover reasonable costs and the unquestionable need to protect tenants from suffering excessive charges by less scrupulous agents.
Opening up right-to-buy for Housing Association tenants certainly has potential and it is sensible that this is being trialled by pilot. However, we must ensure that mechanisms for replacing all sold stock are thoroughly tested in order to protect our most vulnerable.
In a recent survey, a quarter of our members told us that providing better infrastructure in Britain’s most remote areas was key to regional growth and delivering more affordable housing. The Chancellor’s £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund and Northern Plan for road investment will undoubtedly help to plug this gap, delivering the connectivity needed to power the North and our Midland’s engine.
National Housing Federation: http://www.housing.org.uk/blog/autumn-statement-is-a-genuine-and-important-start-to-tackling-our-housing-c/