George Osborne must use his Autumn statement to explore ways to encourage new housing starts, boost standards in private rented accommodation and support people affected by welfare reforms, says the Chartered Institute of Housing.
Mr. Osborne is due to announce his budget on the 5th December, and the CIH have outlined a 4 point submission, to present to him which calls on the government to :
- Improve standards in the private rented industry, by targeting tax allowances – The CIH is calling for landlords who maintain their property to a high standard, to be given more tax allowances as a reward. Currently, private landlords benefit from £7bn of tax allowances, with much of this going to landlords who don’t deserve it. If landlords had to maintain properties to a high standard to gain these allowances, then the quality would begin to rise.
- Give local councils the budget to build more homes – At a time when many councils are struggling to balance the books, the CIH is demanding an increase to local authority borrowing caps, by an extra £7bn. It’s believed this would help local authorities build 75,000 new homes over 5 years, creating over 20,000 jobs and plough £5.6bn into the economy.
- Increase the funding for Discretionary Housing Payment – DHP allows people who are struggling due to housing benefit cuts, to get a top-up on their current housing benefit. Local councils can provide people with the financial support to pay their rent or finance the start-up costs of a tenancy. The CIH is asking the government to commit £250m to DHP funding, helping to support people who have been unable to change their circumstances or need a little extra help.
- Encourage a change in attitude towards housing growth – Local councils are reluctant to build new homes because of the money required. But the CIH thinks that official guidance from the government would help to maximise housing growth.
Grainia Long, the CIH chief executive, told Housing News, that the government needed to be more supportive of local authorities. She said, local authorities “would be able to contribute much more to meeting our national supply challenge if government would only give them the tools.”
She added, ” In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor can take concrete steps to address (the housing issue) and at the same time harness housing’s potential to boost our economic recovery.”
The CIH has found support from the Federation of Master Builders, who have their own demands for the Chancellor’s statement. They want the government to invest in Britain’s current housing stock by reducing VAT on renovation and repair work, and also by helping to improve the homes of those struggling with energy bills this winter.
Brian Berry, the chief executive of the FMB, told Housing News that the Chancellor needed to see Britain’s homes as a great investment opportunity. He said, “unlike big rail or aviation projects, domestic repair and improvement projects can start right away, so the positive impact on the economy would be felt immediately.”
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