Budget 2017 round-up
Ruth Cooke, CEO at Midland Heart comments on this years budget announcement:
"We very much welcome the Chancellor's budget statement and a second devolution deal bringing additional investment to the Midlands.
"Housing associations like us, share the government's ambition to deliver new, high-quality affordable homes and we are pleased to see this renewed commitment to addressing the housing crisis and tackling homelessness in the region.
"However, there is more to do, and we urgently need a planning system that supports our ambition to build.
"We look forward to working with the local and combined authorities to build the homes the region desperately needs."
Housing at the heart of second devolution deal
Reflecting heightened public interest in the supply and affordability of homes, The West Midlands Combined Authority has put housing at the heart of its second devolution deal with Government, alongside support for new transport, skills and digital projects.
Setting a target of 215,000 homes by 2031, the combined authority has secured a £6m funding package to support a Mayoral Housing Delivery Team, which is expected to make an immediate impact on the delivery of homes. The funding will be provided over three years starting in 2017/18. The WMCA will aim to deliver genuinely additional housing above local housing need and existing plan targets.
The Mayor is also continuing work on a Housing Deal to increase the supply of land and housing delivery across the West Midlands. This will build on the work done by the Land Commission to establish a land delivery plan.
Budget delivers big investment in housing but how much of it is new money?
Under increasing pressure to take decisive action against the housing crisis, the Chancellor pledged to invest £44 billion in housing in his Autumn Budget statement. A total of £15.3 billion of this represents new money; the total also includes money for infrastructure and skills. The aim is to increase housebuilding to 300,000 new homes per year by the mid-2020s. The budget reflected ministers’ differences of opinion over how best to resolve housing issues: a focus on the rental sector, measures to stimulate housebuilding, green belt sacrifice or help for first-time buyers?
An additional £2 billion had already been pledged for affordable housing, which Government predicts will generate 25,000 new homes. Also local authorities’ borrowing caps will be lifted in areas of ‘high affordability pressure’.
A Right to Buy pilot will proceed for Midlands housing association tenants, starting in July 2018. Under the voluntary deal with Government, participating housing associations commit to replacing properties within three years of sale, though not necessarily on a ‘like for like’ basis. Discounts to purchasers are expected to be refunded via grant from Government.
A new Homelessness Reduction Taskforce will develop a strategy to eliminate rough sleeping by 2027. A total of £28 million is to be invested in Housing First pilots in Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands.
There were also measures to reduce wait times for Universal Credit, introduce five new ‘Garden Towns’ and make further changes to the planning system to speed up the delivery of new homes.
The budget received a mixed reception across the sector with new investment welcomed but with some criticism of a lack of coherent strategy.