Philip Hammond delivered his first Autumn Statement as Chancellor on November 23 citing housing as one of the UK economy’s biggest long-term weaknesses alongside the productivity gap and the imbalance in economic growth across the country.
Unfortunately, missing from yesterday’s announcements was the greatly anticipated Housing White Paper. The Chancellor’s statement acknowledged the ongoing challenge of delivering affordable housing and the “urgent” impact this has had on the nation’s productivity promising that the paper, when eventually delivered, would address these long-term concerns.
The Autumn Statement did, however, announce a new National Productivity Investment Fund of £23 billion to be spent on “innovation and infrastructure over the next five years.” The Fund aims to support not only businesses but also families who need more roads, rail, telecoms and housing.
This announcement follows on from the October launch of the £3 billion Home Builders Fund which aims to unlock 200,000 plus homes and up to £2 billion to speed up construction on public sector land. In the meantime, another £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund has been committed to “deliver infrastructure for up to 100,000 new homes in areas of high demand”. The focus of the fund will be to unlock land for housing and circumvent objections to development arising from concerns over local infrastructure. An additional £1.4 billion will be provided for another 40,000 affordable homes and London will receive £3.15 billon as its share of national affordable housing funding for the delivery of 90,000 homes.
To further encourage housing delivery, Hammond promised relaxed restrictions on government grant to allow a broader range of housing types. This will be complemented by a regional pilot of Right to Buy for Housing Association tenants as well as ongoing support for home ownership through Help to Buy schemes.
In the meantime, we continue to wait for the Housing White Paper and further details on how government will work towards its long-term goal of providing a million homes by 2020 as announced by Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, at last month’s Conservative Party Conference.