BPF Reaction to Queen's Speech December 2019

19 Dec 2019

Commenting on today’s Queen’s Speech, Ian Fletcher, Director of Real Estate Policy at the British Property Federation, said:

Renters’ Reform Bill
“Build-to-rent providers already offer longer-term tenancies, but we agree with government that any proposals must be workable for landlords and tenants, and that requires fundamental reform of our courts. There are also parts of the sector where an indefinite tenancy simply won’t work, such in student accommodation. Getting that aspect right is critical, as the last thing students need is less supply, hurting affordability. We are keen to work with government to make sure its proposals are workable.”

Lifetime Deposits
“Technology companies and other inventors are coming forward with innovative products that negate the need for deposits and while government is well-intentioned, any legislation should not impinge on that innovation.  Also, in the quickly growing build-to-rent sector, where you have scale and therefore a spread of risks, some providers are no longer taking deposits. Both point to the importance of this legislation keeping up with the times.

Building Safety Bill
“This Bill is clearly a priority. The public needs to have confidence in high-rise residential buildings and feel safe in their homes. The new framework the government has been working on is comprehensive and should provide a good platform for moving ahead with reform. As with any legislation, however, it is only as good as the resources that are put into making any new system workable. The Bill will focus on ensuring new buildings are safe, but the far larger issue is existing buildings and the importance of the work that falls within the government’s wider building safety programme and touches on so many other people and organisations.”

Housing
“The formation of New Homes Ombudsman is a positive step. The devil will be in the detail of the legislation when it is brought forward, but consumers should have more rights to ensure their most-expensive purchase is delivered in perfect form. We look forward to engaging with the government on this issue in due course. The Government remains committed to delivering 300,000 homes-a-year by the mid-2020s, which we support, and it will only do that if all sectors are firing on all cylinders, with homes for sales, social rent and build-to-rent making their full contribution.”

Rail reform and High Speed Rail 2 (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill 
“We welcome the government’s commitment to invest heavily in infrastructure, and commit to continuing projects like HS2, Northern Rail, Crossrail 2 and at Heathrow. More investment in better transport infrastructure is a critical factor in regional productivity, and poor delivery is holding our regions back.”

National Infrastructure Strategy
“Clarity on future infrastructure commitments is always helpful to investors, providing a signal as to where government is investing. However, a strategy is only as good as the investment to support it and public investment is about action, not just words. The capital investment commitments of government will therefore provide the clearer signal as to how ambitious the government is.”

Environment Bill
“The property industry is committed to reducing its carbon footprint. What it seeks from government is a clear articulation of its ambitions. While the package of aspirations that government has set out today should help, it is important that the focus is not just on new buildings, but the far bigger challenge of improving our existing stock.”

English Devolution 
“Regional devolution has been a great policy success story, but so far pursued on a piecemeal basis. We support a White Paper and hope it will cover both what other powers and funding should be devolved, and also a clear framework about rights and responsibilities so more places can benefit from devolution.”

Business Rates
“We welcome the commitment to make changes to business rates, which is not only damaging our town centres but also holding back investment into the UK. The government must now follow through on its election campaign pledge to review this broken tax. Business rates should be fair, proportionate and any review should not focus on business rates in isolation from other taxes”.