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Autumn Statement Offers Little on Housing

22 November 2023

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement today included headline grabbing moves on issues such as taxation and benefits but had little to say about housing. 

Hunt said that he would cut the main 12% rate of employee national insurance contributions to 10%, a measure he said would affect 28m people and save a worker on the average salary of £33,000 £450 a year.

From a business tax perspective, he also announced that full expensing, which allows companies to offset investment against tax, would be made permanent. Combined with other measures, Hunt said that this would increase business investment by around 1% of GDP and provide a boost to productivity. 

However, the measures announced on housing were notably thin, although renters on low-incomes will receive some additional support as a result of the statement. 

“To further support low-income households with increasing rent costs, the government will raise Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of local market rents in April 2024,” Hunt said. 

“This will benefit 1.6 million low-income households, who will be around £800 a year better off on average in 2024-25. Taken together, support to households to help with the high cost of living is worth £104 billion over 2022-23 to 2024-25, or £3,700 per household on average.”

Elsewhere, Hunt announced some additional funding to support planned housing growth in Cambridge, Leeds and London. 

“The government is announcing a further £2 million to address water scarcity in Cambridge, alongside £3 million to support the Cambridge Delivery Group drive the long-term vision for Cambridge by exploring the case for a development corporation,” he said. 

“An additional £2 million in capacity funding will also be available for Leeds City Council to maximise delivery of new homes. 

“Subject to business case approval, the government will also provide £23 million for a bus network to unlock housing in the ‘Docklands 2.0’ as part of the £150 million allocation to London from the Brownfield, Infrastructure and Land Fund.”

In addition, Hunt said that the government will support the planning system by “investing £5 million in additional funding for DLUHC’s Planning Skills Delivery Fund for Local Planning Authorities to target application backlogs.”

A further £110 million was also announced “to deliver high quality schemes to offset nutrient pollution, unlocking planning permissions that are otherwise stalled”, while funding for the Affordable Homes Guarantee scheme, which supports housing associations to access cheaper loans for energy efficiency measures, was doubled.

The government also announced £450 million for a third round of the Local Authority Housing Fund, which it said would “deliver 2,400 new housing units to house Afghan refugees and ease wider housing and homelessness pressures”.

Finally, Hunt said that the government would consult on a new Permitted Development Right for subdividing houses into two flats without changing the façade.

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