Budget 2015 responses and comments

Experts across the industries leading companies have all had their say on the Government’s budget announcements for 2015.

Michael O’Connor, partner, national head of infrastructure, projects and energy at Addleshaw Goddard, said:

“Connectivity between cities will be key to turning rhetoric around a ‘northern powerhouse’ into reality, so the Chancellor’s support for HS3 is another welcome step in the right direction.”

Peter Kershaw, partner at Addleshaw Goddard, said:

“The crucial element of regenerating regions across the North is supporting growth of the many urban centres which circle the big cities. This means investing in roads, district railway and broadband, and giving these districts the tools to re-invent cash gains from development and business rates.”

Marnix Elsenaar, partner, head of planning at Addleshaw Goddard, said:

“One of the crucial problems in Government policy is it remains wholly disjointed. There is no single economic plan uniting housing, health, infrastructure and education, despite the obvious need to understand where housing will go and what health and education resources will be spent near it. Transport has the potential to unlock great areas of regeneration – as we’ve seen across London, but we need a cohesive plan that creates jobs and drives up productivity.

“HS3 is all well and good, but will have little impact on the wider picture unless considered with other infrastructure projects going ahead across the country.”

Daniel Watney

Charles Mills, head of planning at Daniel Watney, said:

“Our research identified the immense potential of brownfield land to help tackle Britain’s housing shortage. Data showed that councils and the public sector alone owned enough sites for a million homes. What the Chancellor should do now is get local authorities to free up more land and start building; he needs to unlock the constraints presented by brownfield land, including the slavish and long term policy protection of underused or indeed vacant sites and high S106 payments which we regularly see obstruct or significantly delay building new homes. Balancing the objectives of Neighbourhood Plans against the urgent need for housing at a national level also needs to be addressed, as the two do not always sit well together. Unlocking these sites would reduce the pressure on green field sites and locate new housing to the most sustainable locations for growth, and therefore must be recognised and supported as a considerable reservoir of potential housing supply.”

Knight Frank

Responding to Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget announcement today, Liam Bailey, Global Head of Research at Knight Frank, commented:

“Almost 83,000 households have already purchased a home through the Help to Buy scheme and there is no doubt it has had a positive, if modest, impact on transaction volumes over the last two to three years. The new Help to Buy ISA is likely to be another support for first time buyers. However we do not expect the impact to lead to a substantial number of new transactions, and is very unlikely to influence pricing in the market.”

Haart

Paul Smith, CEO of haart, comments on the Chancellor’s 2015 Budget:

“We welcome the helping hand of an innovative Help to Buy ISA. A 25% top up for the average first-time home deposit is a fantastic incentive to start saving and seeing the tangible results.

“However, Mr Osborne’s last budget before polling day lacked concrete commitment to increasing housing supply across the UK. Without it, significant house price increases are on the cards. While this is positive for homeowners already on the property ladder it will make it even more challenging for those yet to make the leap. A golden opportunity to rebalance the property market has been missed.”

Structural Timber Association

Statement from Andrew Carpenter, chief executive, Structural Timber Association:

“Any policies from the Government which overcome the obstacles to both commercial and housing construction are always welcome. We fully support the identification of 20 brownfield site housing zones for investment in 45,000 houses, which is definitely needed to address the housing shortage. I urge the Government to ensure these houses are built using modern methods of construction, such as timber, as the build would be efficient and the houses sustainable – important considerations in today’s climate.

“We further support the introduction of the Help to Buy ISA as this will stimulate demand for more housing. The release of local government land, as well as measures to speed up planning for major infrastructure projects, will make a real difference to our industry.

“As we head into the General Election, I hope all parties will put sustainable construction at the heart of their manifestos. The UK has the opportunity to lead the way in building in timber – the only truly sustainable building material and the best way to achieve modern and energy efficient housing for the next generation.”

Construct A Quote

Lyndon Wood, Creator and Founder of leading business insurance website www.constructaquote.com said:

“According to George Osborne, Britain is ‘Walking Tall Again’ and when it comes to the impact today’s budget announcements will have on the construction industry, there are certainly some positives to take.

“Of the jobs created since the last budget, 80% are full-time jobs and 80% are skilled jobs. Fantastic news for those working in the construction sector who have felt pressured since the recession into accepting jobs abroad or alternatively taking employment in which they are overly qualified and subsequently underpaid.

“During the Autumn Statement, Osborne made an exemption from employer’s National Insurance contributions for apprentices under the age of 24. Whilst this was a step in the right direction, I don’t personally think this has been enough to encourage a wide enough variety of people to explore apprenticeship programmes. Having said that, today’s speech highlights that apprenticeships within the UK as a whole have doubled, and the fact that the budget outlines a 20% wage increase for apprentices indicates that the unemployed youth of Britain could soon have more of a reason to enter the trade sector in order to gain a strong set of skills. The fact that there are also more women in work than ever before will hopefully help females enter and excel in the notoriously male-dominated construction sector.”

CML

The Council of Mortgage Lenders welcomes the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in today’s Budget of a “Help to Buy ISA” scheme, designed to provide a 20% government-funded boost to savings accumulated for a deposit.

The CML looks forward to working with Government on the details of the scheme.

CML director general Paul Smee comments:

“Those who can save for a deposit will appreciate the boost announced in today’s Budget. Such steps are welcome. But as saving for a deposit will never become easy, we still need a clear focus on the supply of new housing that will help deliver a sustainable, affordable housing market over the long term.”

Story Homes

Steve Errington, Chief Executive of Story Homes, responded to the chancellor’s announcement that for every £200 saved as a deposit on a first-time home, the government will top it up with £50 more in a ‘help-to-buy’ ISA. He said:

“Story Homes welcomes the Chancellor’s proposal to introduce a ‘help-to-buy’ ISA.

“By contributing to first-time buyer’s savings in this way would-be homeowners will be able to move into their own home much sooner.

“This is good news for homeowners and house builders,it will boost confidence in the sector and lead to the construction of new properties.

“We have already seen the positive effects of ‘help-to-buy’ on our industry and this proposal will offer more help to those looking to take the first rung on the housing ladder.”

Turley

Antony Pollard, Director of Economics, Turley

“The final budget of the Parliament was set against a backdrop of positive economic messages for the UK. These included evidence of rising employment and falling unemployment and a positive economic growth outlook over the next five years. These positive indicators were referenced and re-referenced by the Chancellor and led him to conclude that ‘Britain is walking tall again’.

“Significant weight was placed by the Chancellor on emphasising that Britain’s recovery would be a truly national recovery.

“The commitment to ensuring that growth was distributed across the county, but not at the extent of London, represented a central theme to the budget with the emphasis on a continuation of devolution of powers to the regions. The Chancellor, with reference to the Northern Powerhouse, called the agreement with Greater Manchester on an elected mayor “the most exciting development in civic leadership for a generation”. This was backed by a provisional agreement to allowing Greater Manchester to keep 100% of the additional growth in local business rates. The Chancellor has evidently seen the positive political gains to be achieved from establishing a geographic focus with a New City Deal with the West Yorkshire combined authority also announced alongside a focus on investment announcements in the South West region.

“The focus on familiar and new spatial geographies has the potential to place increasing emphasis on the importance of larger plan-making geographies, as has already been seen in the on-going development of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and also planning work within Greater Birmingham. It also serves to reinforce the importance placed on updating and improving the national transport infrastructure.

“Whilst there is cross-party recognition of a ‘housing crisis’, the Budget set out a limited number of new announcements. The one which will inevitably receive most media coverage will be the Help to Buy ISA. This is evidently intended to build on the success of the current Help to Buy initiative. The extent to which this will fundamentally address a long-standing need to deliver housing is, however, limited. The same could also be said of the announcement to designate the first 20 new Housing Zones outside London, which it is acknowledged is only likely to support a total of 45,000 new homes against an annual national shortfall of over 100,000 homes. The Chancellor skilfully steered a course away from any wider reforms in planning policy.

On the budget announcement, Antony Pollard, Director of Economics at Turley said:

“This is a light touch budget in terms of really getting to grips with the housing crisis. This defers some of the tougher issues and choices for the manifestos and the Government in power post May.”

WSP

Commenting on the 2015 Budget, Mark Naysmith, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff UK COO and Managing Director of property, transportation and infrastructure said:

“Any measures to support house building and infrastructure are of course welcome, and whilst today’s Budget announcement mentions important new regional initiatives, most notably in the South West and the North, these must be seen only as a starting point for further investment. The real issue this country faces is delivery, specifically the capacity of the construction industry and its supply chain to deliver on projects. Unless we attract increasing numbers of the best and the brightest people to the construction industry and built environment then supply will always struggle to match demand.

“We need cross-party support not only for more housing and infrastructure but also for developing the UK workforce with the skills to build these projects. The increased focus on apprenticeships today is welcome, and business, as well as politicians, needs to continue to find creative ways to build on this momentum whatever the outcome of the election”.

Gentoo

Steve Hicks, Managing Director of Gentoo Genie’s home purchase plan responded to the Chancellor’s proposals for a ‘help-to-buy’ ISA.

He said:

“We welcome the Chancellor’s proposal for a help-to-buy ISA, which will add a £50 bonus for every £200 saved. Other innovative solutions will be needed to help people onto the housing ladder.

“Figures released by Shelter earlier this year show in London it would take a couple without children on an average income 10 years to save for a deposit. The government help-to-buy ISA would reduce this by around 25% to eight years.

“While this is obviously preferable to waiting a decade, for many people who are looking for a secure home for themselves and their families it is still far too long. That is why a variety of solutions are needed to end the housing crisis in this country.

“The Genie Home Purchase Plan, which allows people to go straight into homeownership, is an ideal solution for a number of would-be homeowners that have the means to pay a mortgage but struggle to save up for a deposit.”

PWC

Robert Walker, real estate director at PwC, said:

 “The Chancellor’s announcements of new Help to Buy ISAs and housing investment show he wasn’t joking about ‘fixing the roof’ as the sun starts to shine. It will get more people on the housing ladder – where else are you going to get a 25% return on savings? This will open the housing door to many who previously couldn’t even get past the front gate, especially in regions outside London where house prices are lower on average.”