Autumn Statement 2016: BPF comment

Commenting on the Autumn Statement 2016, Melanie Leech, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, said:

“This Budget’s hidden gem is the spending on infrastructure to help bring forward housing sites. Infrastructure spending is housing delivery’s silver bullet and the considerable commitment to invest about £2bn a year is therefore very welcome. The £1.7bn for accelerated construction on public land will also help upscale the modular construction sector, meaning a more efficient industry and the faster delivery of homes.

“We are also looking forward to the housing white paper and the policies that Government is working on. We desperately need far more homes and the Build-to-Rent sector is there to support Government meet that objective. Most large-scale Build-to-Rent landlords do not charge tenants fees and therefore they will not be particularly perturbed by the Chancellor’s announcement, but what is banned and how it works in practice will need carefully working through.

“We were pleased to see that the business rate rises that businesses will face because of the recent revaluation are being phased in at a slightly slower pace. Taxes should not be the ruination of businesses and this will help. It’s also great to see a further £1.8bn will be allocated to Local Enterprise Partnerships across the country, as many are working hard to deliver growth and employment in their areas and this will help unlock land for housing, boost skills and improve transport connections. While we would like to see greater consistency in LEPs’ approach and transparency, this funding coupled with the promise of further devolution deals shows a real commitment from Government to inclusive regional growth.

“One big disappointment is the continued stamp duty surcharge on institutional Build-to-Rent housing, which sends out the wrong signals when those institutions are willing to invest £billions on the new homes that we need.

“We also remain concerned that the proposals to restrict tax relief on interest costs and reform the loss relief rules will inadvertently hinder investment in real estate and infrastructure, even where no tax avoidance is taking place. We are disappointed that the government is going ahead with implementation in April 2017."