Government focus on affordable homes

The government is set to double the housing budget to focus on affordable housing, and prioritise spending on infrastructure and schools. These were among the highlights of Chancellor George Osborne’s combined Spending Review and Autumn Statement on 25 November, which unveiled a raft of measures aimed at spurring devolution, modernising transport and addressing the housing crisis.

A new £6.9 billion housing programme will involve building 400,000 affordable homes during the course of the parliament. Half will be ‘Starter Homes’, which will be sold at a 20% discount compared to market value to young first time buyers. Infrastructure plans include increasing transport capital budgets for HS2 and Crossrail 2 and the roads maintenance and construction programme. Meanwhile, £23 billion will be invested in school buildings, creating 600,000 extra pupil places and 500 free schools.

In addition, the Spending Review includes plans to ask employers to pay a levy which will fund three million apprenticeships by 2020. The new levy, which will be 0.5% of an employer’s wage bill, will apply to firms with a salary bill of more than £3 million a year. New enterprise zones will also be created, housing on greenbelt land is becoming more acceptable and more brownfield sites will become available for development – while second home owners will be penalised with extra Stamp Duty charges from April 2016 onwards.