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14 MAR 2018

What does the Spring Statement mean for property?

Although the Chancellor made good on his promise that the 2018 Spring Statement would be a smaller affair focusing on economic performance and direction, he also made a mixture of old and new announcements that flagged up some interesting points for those in the built environment.

Two of the most interesting came with welcome housing announcements for London and the West Midlands; an extra £1.67bn will see 27,000 new affordable homes for the capital and £100m for the West Midlands to help in their bid to build 215,000 new homes by 2030-31.

Additional points

Business rates revaluation

Phillip Hammond had already committed to three-year revaluations but has brought forward the next revaluation from 2022 to 2021 arguing this will mean businesses can benefit from the change to three-year revaluations earlier, with the first taking place in 2024. RICS has long called for more frequent valuations and a full review.

High-speed broadband

Stressing the government’s support for new technology, the first allocations from the £190m Local Full Fibre Challenge Fund have been agreed. An additional £25m was announced for 5G test beds.

Construction skills

The government has already committed £500m to develop T-Levels, a new technical qualification and £50m is to available from April for employers to help roll out placements. The £29m Construction Skills Fund will open for bids in April with the aim of setting up 20 construction skills villages across the country. Apprenticeships are an area that needs a boost due to falling political attention. The Chancellor reaffirmed the commitment to delivering three million new apprenticeships through the levy and will provide up to £80m to support small businesses to engage new apprentices.

Transport infrastructure

Reminding us that the government has presided over the largest road building programme since the 1970s, the Chancellor asked for bids from across the UK for the £840m fund (announced in the last Budget) to deliver local transport priorities.

Housing

A number of announcements:

  • 44 local authorities have bid for money from the £4.1bn housing infrastructure fund to unlock housing in areas of high demand
  • the government is agreeing deals with ‘ambitious’ local authorities who have agreed to deliver above their local housing need
  • the Housing Growth Partnership, which provides financial support for small housebuilders, will be more than doubled to £220m
  • London will receive £1.67bn to start building a further 27,000 affordable homes by the end of 2021-22
  • almost 60,000 first time buyers have benefitted from the Stamp Duty changes made at last year’s Budget.

The Chancellor also noted that he had received the interim report from Sir Oliver Letwin who is leading the inquiry into the shortfall between housing completions and planning consents.

Devolution

The Chancellor announced the expected deal that day with West Midlands to deliver 215,000 new homes by 2030-31 with help of a £100m grant from the Land Remediation Fund. As well as continuing to devolve powers and budget to combined authorities in the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine, he highlighted city deals with Stirling and Clackmannanshire, Tay Cities, Borderlands, North Wales, Mid Wales and Belfast.