Ahead of the Autumn Statement, the eMoov CEO joined Georgie Frost on Share Radio, to discuss what George Osborne needs to do to address Britain’s housing crisis.
Post statement he shared his reaction via City A.M, the full report of which you can find below.
It would appear that the government have finally woken up to the fact that wishing Britain’s housing crisis away, isn’t going to work. On the face of it they have made a considerable effort towards addressing the housing crisis, particularly at the affordable end of the market, which in principle is great news. But eMoov founder and CEO, Russell Quirk, believes Mr Osborne has failed to scratch the service of Britain’s housing crisis, having already promised the world and delivered almost none of it.
Founder and CEO of eMoov.co.uk, Russell Quirk, commented:
400,000 New Affordable Homes
Osborne’s big news today was the announcement that “this government choose to build” and will double the housing budget to £2bn and reform the housing system, pumping £7bn into building 400,000 more affordable homes, coined as ‘the biggest affordable housebuilding programme since the 1970s’. Great news for those in desperate need of affordable housing, however when this talk amounts to little else than rhetoric, as it so often does, it will come as little comfort to the British public.
Mr Osborne will have to forgive them for taking such a view, but who can blame them when this government is responsible for the lowest level of house building in the last six years.
The average UK house price has already increased by 15% since 2010 and if the government hadn’t overseen such a hike in the first place, then the burden of getting on the property ladder would not be quite so heavy for first time buyers today.
£2.3bn Paid To Developers
Today George Osborne announced £2.3bn will be paid directly to developers to build so-called “starter homes“, aimed at first-time buyers, offering discounts on the asking price.
The news that un-used commercial land will be re-designated for starter homes is obviously a welcome one, but as always the devil will be in the detail.
I’ve been shouting it from the roof tops that in order to get homes built, we must make the proposition more attractive for the developers actually constructing the houses themselves.
Whilst this will certainly get them on the hook, I don’t see it as a long term, sustainable method of getting Britain building again. Yes it’s a start but what happens when the money is spent and we are back to square one?
Instead of throwing money at developers, we need to explore more realistic long term options such as long term tax breaks, to encourage them not to land bank.
Stamp Duty Changes
Mr Osborne has also changed the rules for Stamp Duty Tax for second home and Buy 2 Let landlords. As of April 2016, anyone purchasing a house for either of the above will be charged a further 3% percent on top of the existing charges in place.
Buy to let is now a significant part of the U.K. housing market and this does seem to be a further assault on the middle England ‘buy to let types’ that underpin the sector. Without mortgage tax relief and an additional £12,000 in Stamp Duty on the average house, Buy to Let landlords are considerably worse off now than they were before.
This additional hit will inevitably be passed to the tenant or see the rental market decline substantially. As a result the rental stepping stone to home-ownership will widen further and become even more un-realistic for first time buyers.
Nearly 200,000 people bought a ‘second home’ last year and from today those that follow suit will face an additional 3% cost. So all of a sudden those shiny new flats along the banks of the Thames have just become 3% more un-attractive, particularly to those renting them out.
Despite the usual impervious nature of the London property market, a hike in Stamp Duty Tax will be felt somewhere and I believe that although likely, it might be house prices per se, but it’s not what you expect from Conservative ideology on the basis of them being a party of aspiration.
Help 2 Buy
The government announced today that they would continue flogging the dead horse of ‘Help 2 Buy’, promising £4bn to build 135,000 shared ownership homes for households under £80,000 (£90,000 in London).
Again I would be pessimistic as to how much good this will do and in fact, how many of these transactions will actually materialise. So far the scheme has helped just 70,000 homeowners in the last two years, not even 4% of the 2.4 million property transactions by British home-buyers in the same time period.
Mr Osborne has also announced a new ‘London Help 2 Buy’ scheme, offering help for those with a 5% mortgage deposit. Given that this translates to a deposit of £25,000 on the average London house price, I can’t imagine it will help too many who are struggling to get on the ladder in the first place.
Green Belt & Brownfield Re-classification
The use of Greenbelt land is, understandably, a delicate issue and I wouldn’t condone its use to build, as I believe preserving our countryside is as important as providing sufficient housing.
However there are a high number of areas such as former scrap yards and old industrial sites in the green belt, which if re-visited, would be re-classified as brownfield land. The government must be more intelligent in approaching it as a viable source of land for housing and, think realistically when classifying an area as Greenbelt in the first place.
Government Owned Land
The government and local government seems to be clinging to over 180,000 publicly owned sites like a child that doesn’t want to share their sweets at a playground. Allocating a few derelict prison buildings is like only sharing the odd piece of liquorice, out of a full bag of pick and mix.
It’s as if they’ve been holding onto them for a rainy day, whilst Britain’s housing problems continue to build around them. This latest announcement to allow councils to keep 100% of the sale proceeds for land they own, in order to pump it back into improving better local services, should help to improve local services and potentially housing supply at a council level.
By re-generating these sites and insisting that they are put to develop-able use, the government could make a real step towards addressing the housing deficit.
Maintenance Loans For Post Grad & Part Time Students
It seems that Mr Osborne has done the future population of this country a real dis-service, if only noticeable within the small print.
Post graduates and part time students are often at an incredibly difficult stage of their life financially. Paying existing debts, student or otherwise, struggling on a starting wage and often living beyond their means in terms of the cost of living and renting in the UK property market.
Yes it might result in them clearing the balance of their debt quicker, but this increased re-payment could lead to much graver financial implications down the line. The reason people take loans, get credit cards, or obtain any type of financial support, is because of the option to pay back more manageable amounts over a longer period of time.
If you take this away then it will make the proposition of higher or further education very un-attractive, for those considering it as a path to better themselves.