A slap in the face! Agents lament lack of action in the Spring Statement to boost the property market

Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement has been described as a “slap in the face” for the property market.

Hammond’s update – which was sandwiched between ongoing parliamentary debates on the UK’s Brexit strategy – was, as promised, not a fiscal event like a Budget and had very little new policy.

The Chancellor did say the Government was determined to fix the broken housing market and hailed the success of the first-time buyer Stamp Duty relief.

But agents said he missed the opportunity to do more to reform the controversial property tax.

Paul Smith, chief executive of haart estate agents, said: “The Spring Statement was a slap in the face for the property industry.

“The Government claims to be determined to fix the broken housing market, but the speech was a recital of past announcements, and lacked any material attempts for change.

“Millions of older home owners are locked out of moving, unable to downsize due to the arbitrary unaffordability of Stamp Duty. While at the same time, families are stuck in homes too small due to the lack of available homes to move into.

“The rungs on our housing ladder are broken, and the Government must address and reform our system so it is fit for purpose.

“The Government can help speed things along with incentives targeted at more levels of the housing market. Since their Stamp Duty cut, first-time buyers have swarmed to the market in masses – imagine the impact if this was replicated across for downsizers too.

“We cannot continue putting our lives on hold for Brexit. Especially when we are unlikely to get anywhere with it anytime soon.

“Housing is a national priority and it’s time it was put back on the agenda.”

The only snippet of new news for the property market was the announcement of a new £3bn affordable homes guarantee scheme that will underwrite borrowing by housing associations in England to support delivery of around 30,000 affordable homes.

Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “We support anything which serves to increase the supply of housing stock and improve accessibility for first-time buyers who have been increasingly priced out of the market over the last five years.

“Demand for housing continues to rise, and the number of new homes currently being built isn’t enough to fill this void.

“Coupled with the fact that the buying and selling process is lengthy and expensive, there’s no incentive for home owners to move.

“This means people are staying in their first properties for longer, and consequently there’s a severe lack of affordable housing, so we wholly support the measures announced today. However, in terms of annual transactions, 30,000 affordable homes simply isn’t enough to fix the broken housing market. More needs to be done.”

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