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The Autumn Statement and what it means for housing 24/11/2016

Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his Autumn Statement to Parliament on 23 November.


The UK economy is forecast to be the fastest growing major economy in 2016, however the Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast growth to slow and inflation to rise over the next two years. Some of the key headline announcements that will impact on tenants, stock retained councils and housing generally include:

 

Right to Buy - an expanded regional pilot

 

Following the initial small-scale pilot of the voluntary Right to Buy for housing associations tenants with five housing associations, the government will launch an expanded regional pilot in 2017-18.

 

More information on the timing for the expanded pilot will follow once the detail has been developed with the housing association sector.

 

The cost of the expanded pilot (£250m over four years) will be funded by the Exchequer. The introduction of the expanded pilot will give DCLG more time to consider how the legislation on Higher Value Assets (HVA) will be implemented under the framework set out in the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

 

£2.3 billion for a new Housing Infrastructure Fund

 

The fund will be used for projects such as roads and water connections that will support the construction of up to 100,000 new homes in the areas where they are needed most.

 

On top of that, £1.4 billion will be used to provide 40,000 new affordable homes, including some for shared ownership and some for affordable rent. And another £1.7 billion will be used to speed up the construction of new homes on public sector land.

 

The Universal Credit taper will be reduced from 65% to 63% from April 2017

 

In Universal Credit, as a person's income increases, their benefit payments are gradually reduced. The taper rate calculates the reduction in benefits as a person's salary increases.

 

Currently, for every £1 earned after tax above an income threshold, a person receiving Universal Credit has their benefit award reduced by 65p and keeps 35p. They will now keep 37p for every £1, from April 2017.

 

The government say three million households will benefit from this change:

 

  • a single parent with one child and not receiving support with their housing costs earning £15,000 a year will benefit by £170 a year
  • a couple with two children receiving support with their housing costs, where one parent earns £30,000 a year, will benefit by £425 a year
  • a disabled person receiving support with their housing costs and earning £12,000 a year will benefit by £180 a year

 

A ban on letting agents charging fees to renters

 

Letting agents will no longer be able to charge renters fees, for example when they sign a new tenancy agreement. This will stop tenants being hit with fees averaging £223 per tenancy.

 

The government will consult on this in due course.

 

ARCH Policy Adviser Matthew Warburton has produced a briefing paper on the housing implications of the Autumn Statement for ARCH members.

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