The Chancellor announced two key measures to boost housing development and increase activity in the residential sector.
1. The Stamp Duty holiday was extended until the end of June for house prices up to £500,000 and the end of September for house prices up to £250,000 with a gradual return to the 2019 thresholds by April 2022. It is hoped that this will boost confidence, increasing the number of housing completions in the next quarter.
2. The return of the 95% mortgages backed by the Government, which is particularly attractive for first-time buyers.
The retail and leisure industries have been one of the biggest casualties of the pandemic.
In an attempt to get them open again in April £5 billion has been pledged. This generous gesture builds on the flexibility afforded to town center uses by the recent changes to the “Use Class” order, in particular, “Use Class E” which allows many changes of use without planning permission such as Gym to Office or Shop to Crèche.
There was also the announcement of the £1 billion Towns Fund for 45 new town deals across England. The funds can be used to help these towns design and implement a bespoke growth strategy for their area improving connectivity, revamp town centers, create new buildings and services, or rebranding to attract new visitors and investment.
Whatever each town decides to do the funds could make a real difference to jobs, the environment and the health and wellbeing of workers and residents.
The 2021 Budget marks a vital turning point to the recovery, and it is clear that the development sector has an important part to play, as Boris Johnson promised to “Build, Build, Build our way back” is clearly supported by the Chancellor – let’s hope it works.
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