Addressing the House of Commons, and the entire nation, Philip Hammond delivered his first Spring Statement as Chancellor today. A more sombre affair than recent years, the Chancellor – often referred to as “Spreadsheet Phil” – stuck to his promise of “no red box, no official document, no spending increases, no tax changes,” and instead delivered a shortened speech that focused on economic forecasts.
Today’s modest speech comes as little surprise; prior to the announcement, the Treasury had already revealed that it would move the Budget from spring to autumn – replacing the Autumn Statement. Touted as a move to stabilise the markets amidst on-going Brexit negotiations, the Government’s decision to consolidate two annual Budgets into one major speech at the end of the year and a lighter Spring Statement can be understood.
Although Philip Hammond did not unveil any major new reforms or policies in the 2018 Spring Statement, he did announce:
- OBR forecast say growth will be 1.4% in 2018, 0.1% higher than forecast, with the forecast for 2019 and 2020 unchanged at 1.3%.
- An investment programme of £44 billion has been confirmed to raise housing supply to 300,000 a year by the mid-2020s
- The Government is working with 44 areas on their bids into the £4.1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund to help build the homes that the country needs
- The Housing Growth Partnership, which provides financial support for small housebuilders, will be more than doubled to £220 million
- London will receive £1.67 billion to start building a further 27,000 affordable homes by the end of 2021-22
- The Government has signed a deal with the West Midlands to deliver 215,000 new homes in the next 13 years
- The Housing Secretary will be announcing more housing polices in the coming days
While there was a focus on housing, Hammond’s speech offers no fresh or creative solutions to the long-term challenges facing the property market – the focus instead remains largely on fuelling new-build developments.
However, this does not completely diminish the work the Government has done in housing over the past year. The creation of the Housing Implementation Taskforce, the proposal to relax planning relegations so homeowners can extent upwards in urban areas and the target to increase housing supply with 300,000 new builds every year, are all positive steps in the right direction. But, the question remains: is this enough?
This past week, in a feature for The Independent, MFS’ CEO Paresh Raja has discussed the need to build on these Government initiatives and to implement a more creative, far-reaching strategy plan for overcoming obstacles in the property market. You can read Paresh’s article on this hugely important topic.