This budget had a lot to prove amidst a financial growth slowdown and low productivity, but a high surplus target to hit in 2020. Creating a stable economy was the theme of the day to create a stronger barrier to economic slowdowns elsewhere, but whether this will be achieved is now in question. As part of this set of initiatives “to put stability first”, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed a series of housing measures to address the nagging holes in UK supply and how this housing will be delivered. We reflect back on the key housing points ahead of a highly influential but unknown EU referendum result this June.
Pushing affordable housing forward
During his budget speech, Osborne said, “Mr Deputy Speaker, in every international survey of our country, our failure for a generation to build new housing and new transport has been identified as a major problem. But we are the builders.”
As part of this long-term strategy, the delivery of 13,000 affordable homes will be pushed forward to 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 using £250 million of capital spending.
Following severe winter flooding and a 62% cut to the UK flood research and development budget to improve forecasting and defence over the next seven years, flood defences are to be given a £700 million boost by hiking the Insurance Premium Tax by 0.5%.
Good news for savers
Rather than cut tax relief on pension contributions, which was shelved in March, the Chancellor is planning to give money away with a new Individual Savings Account (Isa) or ‘Lifetime Isa’ to buy a home and/or pension. The Isa will be made available from April 2017 to first-time buyers under 40, who can save up to £4,000 a year to spend up to £450,000 on a home. These savers will receive a 25% bonus from the government, so for every £4 that is saved, the government will give you a £1 top up.
Anyone will be able to withdraw from a Lifetime Isa after one year to buy a house, however, those wanting to use it for their retirement will need to wait until the age of 60. Savers will also be able to put up to £20,000 a year into any Isa, rather than the current £15,240 maximum rate.
Capital gains tax
In a move to unclog UK housing markets, London in particular, the top rate of capital gains tax will be slashed from 28% to 20%, and the basic rate will fall from 18% to 15%. It is hoped that by excluding second homes and buy-to let properties from the reduction, it will encourage property investors to sell up, thus releasing more homes onto the market to reduce the housing crisis and rapid property price growth. However, Nimesh Shah, a partner at accountants Blick Rothenberg, said shortly after the announcement that it will encourage residential property investors to use company structures to reduce their tax bills.
Brownfield development has been hailed as one of the biggest housing opportunities, particularly around London, but construction has been slow. To tackle the issue, a Starter Homes Land Fund will be launched, which will invite local authorities to access £1.2 billion of funding to unlock brownfield land for housing, to deliver 30,000 starter homes.
Stamp duty and tax free allowance
Those involved with online trading or letting their property, for example renting a room while they are on holiday, will receive a £1,000 tax free allowance.
An additional 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for those buying additional UK properties, including large property investors, was confirmed. A shakeup in the commercial sector will also take an affect from 17 March, 2016. Rather than pay a stamp duty rate of the entire transaction value, new rates will apply to the value of the property over each tax band, which are as follows:
Infrastructure improvements and housing are closely linked. By earmarking £230m to road improvements in the North and giving a green light to Crossrail 2 and the HS3 link between Manchester and Leeds, the ‘Crossrail effect’ on house price growth may travel to other parts of the country.
Industry experts, including policy adviser at The Royal Institute of British Architects Mark Crosby, have been disappointed by this year’s budget, saying that investment and initiatives do not go far enough to tackle the UK’s housing crisis.
The UK needs to increase its housing stock for a sustainable future, but finding the right development sites can stall construction. Join us and market experts on 17 May in London’s Cavendish Conference Centre for the 2016 Site Finding & Development Conference to gain advice and insights on where to find sites, how to work with vendors and the residential development process.