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Autumn Statement Brings Mixed Response from Property Industry Professionals

The Autumn Statement delivered by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has elicited varied reactions from the property industry, with some key measures impacting housing but an overall sense of underwhelm for sector professionals.

Key Announcements Affecting Housing:

  • Local Housing Allowance Increase: Chancellor Hunt announced an increase in the Local Housing Allowance to the 30th percentile of local market rents. This decision, reversing the freeze since 2020, is set to benefit 1.6 million households with an average support of £800 next year.
  • New Permitted Development Right: The government plans to consult on a new permitted development right allowing the conversion of a house into two flats, aiming to streamline the planning system by 2024.
  • Extension of Mortgage Guarantee Scheme: The mortgage guarantee scheme, initially set to close in December 2023, has been extended to June 2025. It offers lenders financial guarantees needed to provide 95% mortgages on houses worth up to £600,000.

Additional Measures:

  • Introduction of premium planning services across England, with guaranteed decision dates for major applications and fee refunds for non-compliance.
  • £110m through the Local Nutrient Mitigation Fund to support high-quality local nutrient offsetting schemes, potentially unlocking up to 40,000 homes over five years.
  • An additional investment of £32m across housing and planning to unlock thousands of homes.
  • Extension of the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme by £3bn, aiming to deliver 20,000 new homes.
  • £3m allocated to improve the homebuying and selling process.

Industry Reactions:

Bradley Post, MD of RIFT, praised the chancellor for tax relief measures, which include cuts in National Insurance and tax deductibility on investment.

Lauren Wilson-Smith, CEO of ID Crypt Global, expressed caution regarding the £500m investment in AI innovation centers, emphasizing the need for regulatory measures.

Mitchell Fasanya, Co-founder and CEO of Searchland, welcomed the government’s commitment to addressing housing supply but remained skeptical of actual delivery.

Verona Frankish, CEO of Yopa, noted the government’s avoidance of further property market turmoil but lamented the lack of significant measures to celebrate.

Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves, criticized the Autumn Statement for its lack of innovation and impact on the housing market.

Jonathan Samuels, CEO of Octane Capital, saw the budget as a missed opportunity to revitalize a sluggish property market.

Chris Hodgkinson, Managing Director of House Buyer Bureau, acknowledged the government’s unusual focus on supply issues over demand incentives.

Comments on Specific Reforms:

Jeremy Raj, Head of Residential Property at Irwin Mitchell, expressed cautious optimism for measures to improve the home buying and selling process but stressed the need for a comprehensive, future-proof approach.

William Reeve, CEO of Goodlord, welcomed the change to Local Housing Allowance and the commitment to new housing initiatives.

Tom Goodman, Managing Director at Vouch, noted the absence of Section 24 abolition but highlighted tax cuts that could benefit self-employed landlords and agents.

The property sector’s response to the Autumn Statement reflects a complex mix of welcome changes and disappointment over missed opportunities, emphasizing the ongoing challenges in addressing the housing crisis in the UK.