Housebuilding sidelined in Autumn budget

Apart from the cancellation of stamp duty cuts, the chancellor’s plans included no measures targetting the residential development industry. 

The long-awaited 2022 Autumn budget may have brought a degree of stability to a tumultuous period for the British economy, but it did little to address issues facing the housebuilding industry.

Despite mortgage rates rising to a 14-year high weeks before and the Office for Budget Responsibility publishing a stark forecast for the state of the housing market in 2023, there was little attention paid to advancing residential development in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s announcement.

The only targetted measure comes as a disappointment to many in the industry as it was revealed the government would be making a u-turn on the cut to Stamp Duty Land tax after 2025, which was previously announced to be ‘permanent’.

It was also declared that the planned Investment Zones, areas with reduced planning regulation and lower taxes, would be refocused and “centred on universities in left behind areas.” But no wider revisions to planning policy were discussed leaving some housebuilders to suggest that there is little to no chance government housing targets will be met.

For the wider industry, it wasn’t all bad. The second round of the Levelling up Fund will invest a minimum of £1.7 billion in local projects, with the government reasserting its desire to improve infrastructure around the country.

A move towards energy independence was one of the statement’s headlines, with the announcement that the government will proceed with a new nuclear plant at Sizewell C, creating 10,000 highly skilled industry jobs.

The chancellor also announced the government is stumping up £6 billion to improve energy-efficiency in buildings and industry in an attempt to reduce the UK’s energy usage by 15% by 2030.

While the construction industry hasn’t been forgotten and will clearly have a pivotal role to play in helping the government achieve the vision it outlined here, it feels like the housebuilding industry has been sidelined.

Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the Home Builders Federation called the Autumn Statement a “missed opportunity” to address the “acute constraints” facing housebuilding.

Of course, more details are yet to come and decisions yet to be finalised, but the new chancellor’s budget has done little to reassure housebuilders who are already facing a challenging year ahead.