Chancellor Phillip Hammond has just delivered his first Autumn Statement and what transpired to be his last, outlining his fiscal plan for the foreseeable future. Housing featured heavily as part of his economic strategy in an attempt to address the current turmoil of the UK property market and deliver a housing market that works for everyone.

However, despite a new leaf being turned where the man delivering the message is concerned, leading online estate agent, eMoov.co.uk, believes little has changed in terms of the actual message itself.

Boost to the Housing Market

The main headline where today’s Autumn Statement is concerned is yet another cash injection for the beleaguered UK property market, with Mr Hammond pledging £2.3bn for infrastructure to support 100,000 new homes and £1.4bn to build 40,000 more affordable houses in the places they are most needed, plus a further boost to Right to Buy.

Talk is cheap even if the numbers being banded around today are not. And it remains to be seen how the announcement and the money will actually lead to more houses being built in practice.

Mr Hammond must forgive the nation for welcoming this announcement with a degree of scepticism, as like many a Chancellor before him, these words often equate to little more than regurgitated rhetoric and a shortfall of 100,000 new homes a year.

The Government must realise that these announcements are all well and good but it isn’t the funding that is the issue and, until they address the mechanism itself, little will come of it. Where is the land going to come from? How will the planning process be expedited? These are all questions that need answers with actions not just words if the current crisis is to be tackled head on.

Russell Quirk

Founder & CEO, eMoov.co.uk

Banning Tenancy Referral Fees

Today’s announcement on rental fees is nothing more than opportunistic tokenism and surprisingly is stolen straight from Labour’s manifesto. Interestingly the Chancellor’s own Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, described banning lettings fees as “a bad idea” as recently as September.

It is ironic that the Government should be turning its guns again on the private rental sector, given that the absence of Government action in building affordable homes to rent in the social housing sector has led to private landlords having to fill the gap on their behalf.

A ban on tenancy referencing fees is great on the face of it but the reality is that the agent will make their money regardless and this will be passed onto the landlord and in turn the tenant through higher rents. We’ve seen the same thing happen in Scotland whereby the landlord must charge more to the tenant in rent to cover the increase charged by the agent, you would think the Government would have known this.

Russell Quirk

Founder & CEO, eMoov.co.uk

What was missing: Stamp Duty

More of a Stamp Duty refrain rather than a Stamp Duty reform by Mr Hammond today. Stamp Duty is an archaic tax and one that the industry has been crying to be changed in a manner that benefits UK buyers.

Rather than penalise struggling UK buyers the Government needs to flip Stamp Duty on its head and make the seller accountable for paying it. This would help those buyers already paying the price of homeownership, whilst those that have benefited from the appreciating price of their property are in a better position to stomach the sour taste of Stamp Duty tax.

Russell Quirk

Founder & CEO, eMoov.co.uk

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