March 4, 2020   |   Jack Taylor

Budget 2020 Brings Hope of Big Thinking for Housing

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, is due to deliver a new budget for the UK on March 11, the first of Boris Johnson’s new conservative government.

This will be one of the first tests of the new government’s commitment to addressing the housing crisis in the UK. The conservative government promised in their manifesto to tackle this issue detailing plans to create 1 million new homes in 5 years.

The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), which represents the views and interests of UK mortgage lenders who sell through intermediaries, has described the new budget as “a golden opportunity to fix Britain’s broken housing market”.

The IMLA has called for a “big thinking” approach to housing which will rebalance the demand and supply side of the market. With landlords trying to adapt to all the tax and regulatory changes over the past few years, industry experts are quick to point out that the private rental sector is a vital part of the housing market which must not be ignored.

It is hoped that Sunak will avoid any further regulation and instead raise the threshold for paying stamp duty and introduce much greater support for the rental sector.

The IMLA suggests that the government should also consider carrying out a complete and thorough review of stamp duty including a look at how it impacts on the total number of transactions. A revamped structure could reduce barriers to moving without significantly impacting tax revenues.

Having so far built 240,000 new houses, Boris Johnson is on course to surpass his pledge of 1 million new houses within 5 years. However, the IMLA asks whether those houses are of the correct type. It highlights the UK’s need for a balanced approach to housebuilding, one that benefits everybody regardless of their financial circumstances. 

“We don’t just need more homes” says Kay Davies, executive director of the IMLA, “we need homes of the right size and the right design. We need well built, energy-efficient homes, and all the infrastructure that goes with it, roads, schools, drainage, public services.” 

Adding “the fact that the government is already on course to meet and exceed its target suggests that we could be taking an even more ambitious approach.” The Prime Minister has given his approval for HS2, and there has been talk of other big investment projects, let’s hope that Mr. Johnson and his government take a similar approach to housing.

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