John Elliott, Managing Director of Millwood Designer Homes comments on the latest Budget
The latest Budget delivered by Philip Hammond on 8 March was a quiet one on the housing front. Perhaps because a whole raft of new measures had only recently been announced in the Government’s Housing White Paper last month and it was too soon for any fiscal response or to develop these further.
However, it was heartening to hear that growth forecast for the economy has been upgraded from 1.4% to 2% for this year and that the UK was the second fastest growing economy in the G7 in 2016. Similarly, government borrowing was £16.4bn lower than expected in this financial year and public sector net borrowing forecast is falling steadily. These are strong signs that the Brexit announcement has not had the negative impact that many predicted and that we are in a solid position on the economic front as the Government triggers Article 50 and moves forward with the Brexit negotiations.
From the perspective of the property market however this Budget was a real missed opportunity to build on the momentum of the measures announced in the Housing White Paper and bring about reforms that would help the delivery of new homes that the UK so desperately needs. It is a great shame that time after time the Government fails to address the issue of stamp duty and introduce a long overdue overhaul of a system that is having such a punitive effect on the housing market as a whole.
As it stands the stamp duty system is resulting in lower transaction volumes, lower tax receipts and lower rates of housebuilding, hampering every part of the industry. The Government has it in its gift to make changes that would not only free up the market and help mobility; they would also result in increased revenues for the Treasury and deliver a welcome boost to the economy, so it is no wonder that the industry is demanding change.