Estate and letting agents and other figures in the property industry have been making their last-minute calls on Chancellor George Osborne to assist the housing shortage when he makes his summer Budget speech today.
Jeremy Blackburn, the head of policy at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, says the government has to broaden its message away from simply promoting home ownership.
“While the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have called a plan for 'one nation home ownership', we urgently need to increase genuinely affordable homes for rent in both public and private sectors” he says.
“There are many for whom it is neither possible nor desirable to buy, so encouraging the institutionalised Private Rented Sector [also known as Build To Rent] and freeing up council and housing associations to build .... are vital. Enforcing local plans, using brownfield sites and more finance for smaller builders, are all steps in the right direction, but need to be part of an overall coordinated strategy” says Blackburn.
The Residential Landlords Association also wants more homes in the rental sector.
The RLA says that with the vast majority of landlords being individuals renting out just a few properties, the government should use the tax system to recognise this as a business activity which it currently does not. Therefore among its proposals made to the Treasury, the RLA is calling for an end to the anomaly that means that VAT can be reclaimed where a new home is built for owner occupation but not for rent.
To support the government’s ambitions for home-ownership, the RLA is calling also for roll-over relief on Capital Gains Tax where the sale of a rented property is to a first-time buyer, with suitable controls to prevent abuse, such as an upper limit on price.
“The private rented sector is now the only housing tenure growing, with demand set to increase further” says RLA chairman Alan Ward.
Meanwhile the chief executive of eMoov online estate agency, Russell Quirk - a former Conservative councillor - is sharply critical of the government’s policies to date which he says are fuelling demand while doing little about supply.
He wants the Tory government to identify all developable land owned by public sector organisations and legislate to force them to provide it for building. By way of example, he says central and local government currently own 180,000 land assets including thousands of hectares of land but, for instance, 100 pubs, 60 theatres, 40 hotels and 100 golf courses. An airport is also amongst the £380 billion of assets under public ownership.
He also wants tax relief for High Net Worth Individuals and companies in exchange for them investing cash into social housing schemes. Each scheme would provide a yield and would be traded to subsequent HNWIs or companies after five years of ownership. “Why shouldn’t the private sector assist the dearth of affordable housing supply?” asks Quirk.
Any announcement from the Chancellor with an impact on agents will be reported here on Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today.