Budget 2015 response and comments part two

James Thompson, head of business rates at Deloitte Real Estate, comments on the announcement of 100% retention of the growth in Business Rates for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

“The 10 authorities making up the Greater Manchester Combined Authority have a total Rateable Value of almost £2.75 billion which would generate around £1.35 billion – around 50% more than Wales.

“The Government has already announced complete devolution of business rates to Wales from April 2015. Wales has had limited control over the rate and transition and reliefs since devolution and as a result they have a simpler system and some would say a much better one. The total Rateable Value in Wales excluding the Central Rating List is just over £1.85 billion bringing in about £0.9 billion annually.

“The benefits to Greater Manchester of control of this funding stream will depend on the success of Greater Manchester’s economy and the level of autonomy allowed to the Authority to manage business rates.”

Commenting on the announcement of the land and property reform announced by the Chancellor today, Vicky Smith, head of Public Sector at Deloitte Real Estate, said:

“This new model will charge rent to Government departments who occupy freehold properties owned by the Government. This will encourage more efficient usage of space and will help the Government in achieving its £5 billion disposals target by 2020, as set out in its estate strategy 2014.

“The Government’s estate is valued at £348 billion and running costs are approximately £20 billion per annum. The Government estimates it has made annual savings of £600 million per annum as a result of early exits from leasehold, private finance initiative (PFI) or disposals of freehold property since 2010. The disposal strategy has resulted in over £1.4 billion in receipts.”

CML

The Council of Mortgage Lenders and Which? today publish a joint progress report to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as noted in today’s Budget. This joint approach is to improve the information given to consumers so it’s easier to understand mortgage fees and charges and compare the overall cost of borrowing.

The organisations have made good progress, and most of the industry will have made the necessary changes by the end of the year. In July CML and Which? will publish firm proposals and a timeline for implementation.

The progress report outlines the key proposals for change, which are:

  • Introducing a common approach by lenders to make their “tariff” of fees and charges available to customers to avoid confusion and make it easier to find information about mortgage costs;
  • Wider use of consistent terms to describe the same types of fees and charges that currently have an array of different names;
  • Better explanations of whether fees are compulsory or avoidable and when they will be charged;
  • Clearer ways of presenting information to help borrowers compare the cost of particular mortgage deals over specific periods, not just the upfront costs.

CML director general Paul Smee comments:

“This collaboration with Which? has helped lenders focus on practical and simple ways to help customers by making information more transparent and consistent. We hope customers themselves will find it easier and less daunting to make informed choices about their mortgages as a result.”

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd comments:

“This is good news for thousands of consumers who supported our call for an end to the confusion about the full cost of taking out a mortgage. Which? has been working with the CML to simplify the wide range of complicated fees and charges in the market so people don’t pay over the odds on their loan. We look forward to all mortgage providers making these changes so that people can get the best deals more easily.”

LDA Design

Noel Farrer, President of the Landscape Institute, has welcomed today’s news that the Swansea Tidal Lagoon is to be funded in the 2015 budget.

The Swansea Bay scheme will deliver the world’s first purpose built tidal energy lagoon, harnessing the incoming and outgoing tides to generate renewable electricity for 14 hours per day, for 120 years. Alongside this, it will also provide a major sports, tourism and leisure destination, contributing to local regeneration.

Speaking about the scheme, Noel Farrer said:

“This is a landmark project – the world’s first tidal lagoon able to generate clean energy. And, as a landscape-led project it clearly demonstrates how large infrastructure projects can contribute positively to our environment. The landscape team – the creative leaders of this project – will deliver a long-term, green energy source alongside a completely regenerated Bay. It shows exactly what can be achieved when a landscape-led approach to major development is embraced from the outset.”

The Swansea Tidal Lagoon won the top prize at the Landscape Institute Awards in 2014. LDA-Design – the landscape practice behind the project – won the prestigious President’s Award. The Landscape Institute Awards are presented annually to encourage and recognise outstanding examples of work by the landscape profession.

Leonard Cheshire

Responding to the Government’s commitment in the Budget ‘Red Book’ to look at ‘exploring whether improving housing can help people with care needs stay in their homes longer and reduce costs to the NHS’, Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Campaigns Director Andy Cole said:

“We welcome the Government’s commitment in today’s Budget to look at improving housing to help people with care needs remain independent in their homes for longer. Urgent action is needed to create more disabled-friendly homes as our recent research shows that currently over 300,000 disabled people in the UK are on housing waiting lists and living in severe discomfort because their homes are not suitable for their needs.

“Too many disabled people are having to wash at their kitchen sink, sleep in their living room, and struggle to get in and out of their front door because their homes are inaccessible. Acting now on disabled-friendly housing will ease pressures on the NHS, and save public money as more people can be supported at home with quality care, suffer less injuries from their unsuitable homes, and stay independent for longer.

“We will be seeking more detail on this proposal and look forward to working with the Government to support it.”

Glenigan

Commenting on the Budget announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, Glenigan Economics Director Allan Wilén said:

“Inevitably 50 days before the general election, the Chancellor’s attention has been on short-term political priorities rather than long term investment needs. However, there has been no big pre-election give away, with the government choosing to use better than expected public revenues to tackle the deficit more quickly than previous planned.

“Nevertheless, the forecasted faster growth in the UK economy and household incomes should bolster private housing and non-residential construction activity.

“The Chancellor’s Budget proposals are centred upon supporting and encouraging private sector investment and economic growth. This includes his ‘surprise’ move to create a Help to Buy ISA that will include a government contribution of up to £3,000 for savers to help bolster their deposit. Additional support for increasing new housing supply is being provided though the creation of the first 20 housing zones outside London, with the potential to deliver 34,000 new homes.

“Elsewhere, direct government support is limited. An expected £13 billion of planned departmental cuts during the next Parliament indicates that publicly funded construction work would remain under pressure under a future Conservative government.

“While funding support has been pledged for a few projects such as the Brent Cross regeneration scheme, the Croxely rail link and the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, the Chancellor’s focus was more on the government’s enabling role. This includes the promised release of public sector land with capacity for up to 150,000 new homes between 2015 and 2020.

Additional planning powers are promised for the London Mayor to accelerate new housing provision, while pilot schemes in Greater Manchester and Cambridge and Peterborough will incentivise local authorities to support economic growth by allowing them to retain any additional growth in business rates.”

eMoov

Today Mr Osborne delivered his last budget before the general election in May. The drop in inflation rates to a record low mean Mr Osborne or his successor will have around an additional £6 billion in the kitty.

Promising not to return to the “chaos of the past” Mr Osborne claimed “Britain is working again” and that “this budget backs the homebuyer.” But just how exactly was he going to do this?

He skated briefly over talk of new funding for the London Land Commission to help address the shortage of house in the UK, as well as the mention of “housing zones”, although he refrained to elaborate any further. Claiming that they “won’t build the country up by pulling London down” suggests we could see a close in the gap between house prices in both halves of the country.

However Mr Osborne’s big hitter was the announcement of a new Help to Buy ISA for first time buyers. The scheme will help those aspiring to get a foot on the property ladder by paying an additional £50 to their deposit for every £200 they save themselves. Effectively a tax cut for first time buyers it will be introduced in the autumn. This coupled with the news that inflation rates will remain low will be news welcomed by those struggling to afford to get onto the housing ladder.

Founder and CEO of eMoov.co.uk and Brentwood Councillor Russell Quirk commented

“George Osborne has dug deep for aspirational home owners by throwing them a bone of a 25p bonus for every £1 they save, via a new “Help to Buy ISA”. The result for the aspirational home owner is having saved a deposit of £12,000, George will add an additional £3,000 to the deposit for your first home.

Will this boost the property market? I think it will due to a combination of things. Interest rates that given long term inflation forecasts are set to stay low, the November’s Stamp Duty boost and today’s 25% First Time Buyer ISA bonus, will all help to contribute. All in all things are certainly looking buoyant for the UK housing market.”