Housing always seems to feature in any government’s budget as the subject is of core importance to the long-term housing shortage and economy of the country and this time housing featured strongly. I’ve removed a few of the London related announcements but below are the key points in relation to the overall housing industry.

  • Stamp duty to be abolished immediately for first-time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £300,000
  • 95% of all first-time buyers will benefit, with 80% not paying stamp duty
  • Reduction will apply immediately in England, Wales and Northern Ireland although the Welsh government will have to decide whether to continue it when stamp duty is devolved in April 2018
  • £44bn in overall government support for housing to meet target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the middle of the next decade
  • Councils given powers to charge 100% council tax premium on empty properties
  • Compulsory purchase of land banked by developers for financial reasons
  • £400m to regenerate housing estates and £1.1bn to unlock strategic sites for development
  • Review into delays in developments given planning permission being taken forward

The key one of course that is creating the headlines is scrapping stamp duty for the first £300,000 spent by first time buyers. This is without doubt a positive approach and will help many financially as they commit to buying their first home. The first-time buyer market supports the market as a whole and will encourage movement. There are those that feel this is little more than a ‘headline grabber’ and it will do little to encourage first time buyers and will benefit very few and whilst I can see their point let’s not forget the positive.

Also, the ongoing support of the new homes market to meet the target of building 300,000 homes a year is again solid and positive with a sizable £44 billion-pound package.

I won’t comment on the other housing related points as they are self-explanatory but ultimately positive where the housing market is concerned but other announcements may not have featured in headlines but are worthy of comment are:

Bringing forward a planned cut in business rate rises by two years to 2018. Small and medium sized businesses are incredibly vital to the country and any assistance and saving is very welcome. This might seem a minor announcement but worthy of note.

new railcard offering discounts to those aged between 26 and 30. Again small scale but to financially assist people, reduce road traffic, encourage movement and working practice has got to help. Mixed reviews on this one reported but every little helps.

Was the budget good news? Opinions will vary, and we would all like something better but upon reflection of the economy, the Brexit negotiations and the global economy I would like to think it’s a fairly solid positive stance.