On 15th March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, announced his SpringBudget, “”. The Responsibility also eased concerns by announcing that the UK will avoid a recession, with inflation set to fall to 2.9% by the end of the year.
While the Budget did not include any new proposals for the housing market specifically, here are some of the key takeaways that could still influence our sector.
1. Energy bills
The Budget announced that the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) – which limits the price households pay per unit of gas and electricity – is set to remain at the current level of £2500 for a further three months (April-June 2023). Some have suggested that the extension could save the average family around £160. The increase to£3,000 per year will now come into effect on 1st July, rather than 1stApril as previously announced. With the cost-of-living one of the key factors deterring would-be buyers, this could be a great move for buyer confidence.
2. Childcare support
The Budget has also expanded the childcare support on offer, by providing an additional thirty hours of free childcare a week for thirty-eight weeks a year for eligible working parents of children aged nine months to three years. The government will kick start the rollout from April 2024, with the hours being made available in addition to the thirty hours a week already provided for eligible working parents of three to four-year-olds.
The cost of childcare has been a huge challenge for families, with the government suggesting there are 435,000 people in England with a child under three who are in employment due to their caring responsibilities. For many of these, the cost of childcare does not makeworking a viable or profitable venture. A return to work could significantly change an applicant’s loan to income ratio and improve their buying power, sothe free childcare provision could again provide an indirect boost to the mortgage sector.
3. Investment zones
While the Budget did not offer any new initiatives for housing, there is potential for the twelve refocused investment zones to bring new housing projects. The zones – spread across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – are set to benefit from “greater control over local transport, skills, employment, housing, innovation and netzero priorities, as well as single funding settlements at the next Spending Review.”
The Budget also revealed new Levelling Up partnerships which will provide over £400 million of investment in twenty areas across England, alongside funding for local projects to support communities. This includes regeneration projects, pothole repairs, support for local charities and community organisations, and funding for public swimming pools. While the investment zones are likely to have a more direct impact,through offering ‘greater control’ over housing, the Levelling Up partnerships can increase the appeal of undesirable housing. The regeneration projects could also boost job prospects, again increasing the viability of buying a property.
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