Autumn Statement 2023 – A boost for the housing industry?

The recent Autumn Statement has unveiled significant initiatives aimed at reshaping the housing industry in the UK. Among the key reforms, the Chancellor has allocated £32 million to address the planning backlog, focusing on delivering new homes in designated “quarters” across Cambridge, London, and Leeds[1].

Councils will now have the authority to offer accelerated decision dates for major developments in exchange for a fee, with refunds guaranteed if deadlines are not met. Additionally, transparency and reporting measures will be implemented to enhance accountability in planning authorities’ delivery records.

Planning Reforms

To further expedite housing development, the Chancellor proposed consulting on a new permitted development right. This right would allow any house to be converted into two flats[2], provided the exterior remains unchanged, offering a potential solution to the persistent planning backlog.

Neutrality Rules

Addressing a contentious issue, the Autumn Statement also tackled nutrient neutrality rules[3], which have been a major hurdle in housing development. The government plans to invest £110 million in the next two years for high-quality nutrient-mitigation schemes, aiming to unblock the development of over 100,000 homes. This funding will be channelled through the Local Nutrient Mitigation Fund, benefitting councils affected by the rules and facilitating the delivery of an estimated 40,000 homes over the next five years.

New Funding

In terms of new funding, the government announced a substantial £3 billion extension for housing associations under the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme[4] (AHGS). This extension is anticipated to deliver 20,000 new homes while enhancing the quality and efficiency of existing housing. An additional £450 million is allocated for a third round of the Local Authority Housing Fund, aiming to provide 2,400 new housing units

Public Works Loan Board

The Autumn Statement includes a £5 million extension, valid until June 2025, for the Public Works Loan Board policy margin. This extension supports local authorities in borrowing for Housing Revenue Accounts[5], potentially yielding savings, and additional investments of up to £150 million over the borrowing period.

Property Technology Products

The government has earmarked £3 million for various measures to streamline the home buying and selling process. This includes piloting property technology products and digitising local council property data[6], reflecting a commitment to modernising and improving efficiency in the housing market.

Overall, the Autumn Statement 2023 outlines a comprehensive strategy to tackle challenges within the housing industry and foster its growth in the coming years.

You can read the full Autumn Statement on the Government Website here.

[1] See: 5.192 Cambridge, Leeds and London

[2] See: 5.200 Permitted Development Right convert one house into two flats

[3] See: 4.105 Investing in housing supply

[4] See: 5.195 Investing in housing supply

[5] See: 5.196 Housing Revenue Account rate extension

[6] See: 5.197 Home buying and selling

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