Chancellor George Osborne has set out seven issues of relevance to the housing industry in his Budget delivered on Wednesday.
- No bubble risk: Osborne says that at the current rate of price growth it will be 2018 before average UK house prices reach their pre-downturn peak, suggesting he believes there is little risk of a current or future bubble. In any case the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee will be vigilant in its monitoring of future price rises. The Office of Budget Responsibility, advising Osborne, forecasts price growth of 37.2 per cent in UK house prices between 2013-14 and 2018-19.
- Stamp Duty: The existing 15 per cent stamp duty currently applied to homes costing over £2m and purchased through off-shore companies or corporate envelopes' will from midnight tonight apply to a wider group of properties - all those priced above £500,000. Osborne says this is part of a wider government attack on tax avoidance.
- Right To Build: £150m of funding for the existing Community Right To Build initiative, which encourages small community-led construction projects, including homes.
- House-building: A pledge to create an additional 200,000 new homes by 2020 (how this is to be achieved, or whether this is in addition to existing new house building levels, has not been specified), with some £500m promised to assist small and medium-sized house builders through a Development Investment Bank.
- Apprentices: Government will extend the grant for small businesses to support 100,000 more apprenticeships, some of which will be directly and indirectly in property industry.
- Help To Buy: Osborne has confirmed that Help To Buy Equity Loan (the first part of the HTB scheme - the part applying to purchasing new homes) will be extended until 2020.
- New Garden City: The Chancellor has also confirmed the creation of 15,000 new homes at a new Garden City at Ebbsfleet in Kent, as well as smaller infrastructure improvements elsewhere.
These measures have been set out against a context of what the Chancellor describes as an improving economy, which will create 1.5 million new jobs within five years and which will see a budget surplus - not deficit - by the end of 2018-19 financial year.