Keepmoat Homes urges Hammond to help the young and build more homes

16 November 2017

Comment by James Thomson, CEO, Keepmoat Homes

“The Chancellor should take the opportunity to increase the affordability and supply of homes particularly for young people, introducing measures such as a stamp duty holiday and reforming Help to Buy so that it more effectively targets genuine first time buyers.

“We would support a number of measures to reform Help to Buy, such as restricting the scheme to first time buyers, lowering the income cap for eligible purchasers, and lowering the price cap for eligible homes. Indeed also reducing the level of support for each buyer – from the current 20% to 15% or possibly lower – could be provided without significant impact on the effectiveness of the scheme and would help more buyers with no additional cost.

“There has been speculation about investment in ‘skills villages’ next to major housing developments which we think could be a ‘game changer. We see at first hand in our developments the need to fast-track a new generation of brickies, plumbers and electricians – and not forgetting joiners.

“Given the Government’s ambitious plans for homebuilding the Chancellor could consider tax breaks and incentives for companies investing in the fledgling modular construction industry. Modular homes have the ability to provide quality homes in a fraction of the time of traditionally constructed homes. We can install up to 10 homes per day and see residents moved in just two weeks later.

“The opportunity for fast delivery of new homes is in brownfield land, a large quantity of which is owned by the public sector. This land does not need to be sold. Local authorities are potentially a significant source of additional homes of all tenures through development partnerships.

“This budget could see resolution of the long debate over how local authorities extract value from new development for infrastructure and affordable housing, or to mitigate the impacts of development. What is most important to us is that councils are given greater flexibility to spend housing money – CIL and the full range of housing related receipts – on housing.

“The reclassification of housing associations as private bodies gives us a rare opportunity for national unity. There was never any political decision that housing associations should be defined as public bodies. It was a technical glitch and one that the Government has long been determined to reverse. It is excellent news that they have found a way to do that.

“The classification of housing associations as public bodies in 2015 was partly a recognition by the Office for National Statistics of the level of Government intervention in their activities. We have been very pleased to see the role of housing associations fully reinstated under the current Government. The new regulations putting the sector at greater distance from Government can be seen as a sign of this administration’s confidence in their willingness and ability to deliver.”

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