Autumn Statement 2016: industry response

// HA News

Housing was undoubtedly the hot topic of this year’s Autumn Statement given by Chancellor Philip Hammond today. 

With the latest announcement that the government intends to invest £1.4bn to deliver 40,000 affordable homes across Britain and relax restrictions on government grants to widen the types of homes being built, there is much to look forward to in the housing industry over the next few years.

How is the industry reacting? HAmag have gathered a wide range of responses from across the sector to offer an industry response:

Happy housebuilders

John Tutte, Chief Executive Officer at Redrow, commented "The announcement of the £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund to overcome local objections and unlock 100,000 new homes in areas of high demand is very welcomed. To be successful, new communities must be supported by improvements to local infrastructure and services and these proposals recognise this.

"Today’s Statement contained positive steps toward addressing the crisis of housing supply in the UK and I am now looking forward to seeing the detailed policies the housing white paper contains to further increase the supply of homes."

Andy Hill, Chief Executive at Hill, said "The new £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, announced in today’s Autumn Statement, is a win-win for the UK economy and housing market. This fund will give housebuilders a helping hand to accelerate the delivery of new homes in high demand localities such as London, Cambridge and Oxford.

"As part of our five year growth strategy, we aim to increase the number of homes we complete annually to 2,500 and with the Government’s help in unlocking land, we look forward to seeing this come to fruition in 2020."

Russell Gardner, Head of Real Estate at EY, added "Measures to address the UK’s housing supply crisis are welcome, but must represent the start of a major commitment to building significantly more homes across the UK. The headline numbers are eye-catching but it requires a stretch of the imagination to believe that new homes supply can be unlocked for £23,000 each or an affordable house can be built for £35,000. We eagerly await the Housing White Paper and hope it contains more radical structural proposals."

Housing providers

Stonewater cautiously welcomes Chancellor’s affordable housing plans in Autumn Statement. Nicholas Harris, Chief Executive Designate, said "Stonewater welcomes the Chancellor’s plans to double annual capital spending on housing and free up land supply to tackle the nation’s affordable housing crisis. We’re also cautiously pleased to see a more ‘flexible’ housing programme that responds to local market needs and we look forward to more details on this. It’s good to see the Government putting affordable housing at the centre of this Autumn Statement.

"Today’s additional £1.4bn funding boost to build 40,000 more affordable homes, coupled with the relaxation of restrictions on government grant, will enable social housing providers to boost housebuilding across a wider range of housing types to meet the needs of more people rather than just new homes for first time buyers."

David Bennett Sanctuary Group Chief Executive commented “Housing is the biggest outlay for most families so today’s announcement is a welcome step towards solving the housing crisis.

“By building 30,000 homes by 2026, Sanctuary will help increase housing supply across the country.

"Sanctuary’s size means that we are able to build social housing without grant - helping those who are just about managing - and with today’s announcement we will be able to build even more social housing."

Industry expert analysis

Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive, said "It’s certainly refreshing to hear the government investing in affordable housing with £1.4 billion of funding for 40,000 homes, because housing associations have been under huge funding pressure for many years now, and this move is long overdue. However we also need to recognise the role that local authorities and city regions can play in the delivery of affordable homes – Metro Mayors will get more powers to borrow for infrastructure, but councils are not allowed to borrow to build homes, and so it is disappointing that this hasn’t yet been addressed by the Chancellor. We mustn’t let the government’s delayed Housing White Paper become a ‘white wash’ by once again avoiding this reform. We also need to ensure we are getting the balance right between shared ownership, affordable rent and social housing, so the new flexibility for housing providers on developments announced today is also welcome."

Sarah McMonagle, Director of External Affairs at the FMB, commented "The Chancellor’s commitment to double annual capital spending on housing by 2020 demonstrates that he understands that house building and economic growth are intrinsically linked. For every £1 invested in construction, £2.84 is generated in the wider economy and therefore the best way to protect ourselves from an economic wobble as we leave the EU is to invest in our built environment. For that reason, the £1.4 billion announced for 40,000 affordable homes is welcome, as is the £1.3 billion for roads – the latter will help improve the UK’s infrastructure and make our economy more competitive."

Richard Steer, Chairman of Gleeds worldwide said "This was a budget produced by a Chancellor who has one hand tied behind his back by the Brexit result and the other by the PM trying to keep her party in line. There is still so much economic uncertainty that it is difficult to be excited by re-heated announcements of increased infrastructure spending and more housebuilding. 

The new productivity fund sounds good but we have heard this type of thing before and, whilst it is argued that it will be funded by increased borrowing, the main issue is confidence in the UK and this was not a budget that is going to help enhance the value in the sterling which effects costs, or persuade private sector funders to invest. It was an inward looking budget that appeared to deliver opportunities via raised borrowing. The increased profile of housebuilding initiatives is to be welcomed but until we know answers to questions like whether or not we will have free access to skilled labour, one feels it was more of a wish list than a reliable fiscal forecast."

Terrie Alafat CBE, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, concluded "Given the scale of our housing crisis the central focus on housing in the government’s Autumn Statement today is a significant step in the right direction.

"The measures announced today demonstrate this is a government which recognises housing is a key part of our infrastructure and that it brings economic benefits. It also shows this is a government which is serious about its commitment to help the many thousands of people struggling to get access to a decent, affordable home."

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