Property industry commentators gave a cautious welcome to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s first Budget yesterday as he repeated the Conservative party’s new mantra “We’re getting it done”.
For housing he pledged:
- a new £12 billion multi-year extension of the Affordable Homes Programme – a £3 billion boost to the current programme which was put in place in 2016 and ends next year.
- an extra £650m of funding to help rough sleepers into permanent housing.
- a new £1bn fund to remove dangerous cladding from high rise buildings.
- An additional 2% stamp duty on UK homes bought by foreign investors.
Ringley Group MD Mary-Anne Bowring was widely quoted in the press as print and online broadcasters raced to publish reaction to the Budget.
Commenting yesterday, she told City AM, The Mirror, Mail Online and the Evening Standard, that she was in favour of the Chancellor’s increase in stamp duty, saying: “The stamp duty increase on the falling pound has made housing more affordable to overseas buyers, while domestic buyers have had to contend with stagnant wage growth and ultra-low interest rates pushing up prices and eating away at their ability to save.” However, she added that the increase for overseas buyers will simply put things back to where they were before the Brexit vote and “level the playing field for domestic buyers.”
Speaking to Building and React News, Maryanne also welcomed the news of a new £1bn fund for cladding removal. The Chancellor said the cash will “go beyond dealing with only ACM cladding” and will help ensure that other types of unsafe cladding can be removed from both social housing and private blocks above 18 metres.
However, the Ringley MD does not believe the government has gone far enough to support residents concerned about the safety of their buildings. “The crisis goes far beyond removing Grenfell-style cladding,” she said. “Even leaseholders who have had their cladding found safe are still unable to re-mortgage or sell their properties due to the challenges of getting a signed EWS1 form. It is not just about dangerous cladding, it is about retrospectively tracing the physical construction of the building, and testing and how all the components and layers of the building act together.”
Residents in buildings less than 18 metres high – which may also be clad in potentially unsafe materials – were ignored by the Chancellor. Maryanne highlighted the fact that there must be an acceptance of the scale of the problem. “Today’s sums are just simply not enough,” she said.