Property industry reaction to Autumn Statement

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt started his speech yesterday saying he had more than 100 measures in his full Autumn Statement. But it was a rather underwhelming announcement for the housing sector.

Although the property market was generally overlooked, the chancellor did make a few key announcements when it came to to our industry:

Local Housing Allowance rate to rise

Hunt says rent can constitute more than half the living costs of private renters on the lowest incomes

He says he will therefore increase the Local Housing Allowance rate to the 30th percentile of local market rents. This will give 1.6 million households an average of £800 of support next year, he says.

Local housing allowance helps people on benefits pay their rent to a private landlord. It has been frozen since 2020 despite rents rising sharply. That freeze has now been lifted.


New permitted development right

The chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced that the government will consult on a new permitted development (PD) right to enable one house to be converted into two flats in a bid to “streamline” the planning system. This is to be implemented in 2024.


Mortgage guarantee scheme

The mortgage guarantee scheme has been extended by 18 months to June 2025 from December 2023.

Launched in April 2021, the scheme offers lenders the financial guarantees they need to cover the other 95% of the mortgage on a house worth up to £600,000.

The scheme was due to close to new accounts on 31 December 2023. Chancellor Hunt announced its extension, alongside expanding the affordable homes guarantee scheme.


Additional announcements: 

+ Introduce premium planning services across England with guaranteed accelerated decision dates for major applications and fee refunds wherever these are not met

+ Commit £110m available through the Local Nutrient Mitigation Fund to support LPAs in delivering high-quality local nutrient offsetting schemes, unlocking up to 40,000 homes over the next five years

+ Invest an additional £32m across housing and planning to unlock thousands of homes across the country

+ Extend the existing Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme by £3bn to help it deliver 20,000 new homes, in addition to improving the quality and efficiency of thousands more

+ Provide £3m for a range of measures to improve the homebuying and selling process


Industry reactions:

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert said: “The lack of housing announcements feels like a missed opportunity to help home-movers and home-owners today, given the challenges this year with higher mortgage rates. Affordability-stretched first-time buyers in particular will be feeling forgotten, as they try to get onto the ladder with increasingly squeezed budgets and reduced support options. We hope the government will consider other measures to help the market in the spring budget.”


Sam Mitchell, CEO of Purplebricks, said: “By failing to cut stamp duty and cut it permanently, the government has missed an opportunity to set the already fragile housing market on a clear path to recovery. Rumours will now grow that we will see a cut in the spring, meaning decisions on buying and selling will be delayed and the economy will suffer.
“This has already been a difficult year for the property sector, and the lack of support will threaten a recovery in 2024. Despite this, the silver lining is the confirmation of the extension to the mortgage guarantee scheme. Not only does this support the green shoots we are already seeing in the lending market, but is great news for first time buyers, especially if coupled with the declining rates we are seeing in the market.”


Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, said: “The chancellor’s muted actions today while not a hindrance to the housing market are definitely not the helping hand that many hoped for. Expectations of possible announcements on support for first-time buyers, cuts to stamp duty for downsizers and Inheritance Tax reliefs were all notably absent. This provides an important platform for the new housing minister, the second in less than a year, to make a difference to the property sector and not miss future opportunities to back the market and offer a vote of confidence to buyers and sellers. The Chancellor’s acknowledgement of our failing planning system sets the stage for the Housing Minister to extend reform to the residential sector to boost much needed supply.

“Irrespective of the Chancellor’s omissions today the housing market has continued to show resilience in house prices this year with falls far more subtle than many had expected, but further measures that stimulate growth and ensure this trend remains stable for the long-term will always be welcomed by the industry.”


Oliver Kent, director at Vita Properties, commented: “At a time when mortgage rates and the general cost of living have soared, first time buyers through to downsizers desperately need help to encourage movement and give the property market a bit of a boost. It’s therefore disappointing that the chancellor did not announce any property measures that could have helped a stagnant market.

“I was hoping for an increase in stamp duty thresholds, particularly for downsizers and also first-time buyers in London to reflect most homes are over £425,000, plus either a direct replacement of the Help to Buy scheme or an extension of the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme – or both.

“Developers are struggling to sell their homes due to a drop in demand from first time buyers, and downsizers are sitting on a lot of good quality stock that upsizers desperately want in St Johns Wood and Hampstead. The property market will remain locked like this unless something is done to help reduce the cost of moving or buying your first home.”


Dominic Agace, chief executive of Winkworth, said: “Making it easier to convert houses into flats is a positive step, allowing the market to decide the mix of properties in an area dependent on demand. This will  provide homes for more people from the existing housing stock, making it more efficient.”


Verona Frankish, CEO of Yopa, commented: “Last Christmas, the government gave us property market turmoil as a consequence of the mini budget. This year, they’ve saved us from further tears, but they haven’t given us much else to shout about.”


Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, said: “Another underwhelming Autumn Statement where the housing market is concerned. Much like unwrapping a pair of socks on Christmas Day, it lacked imagination and left us feeling largely disappointed.

“It’s clear they have run out of ideas when it comes to addressing the current issues plaguing the property market. Hardly surprising when we have housing ministers coming and going more frequently than the postman.”


Richard Donnell, executive director at Zoopla, said: “While there is little that is housing specific in the Autumn Statement, the package of proposals should be welcomed by households, homebuyers and businesses as supportive for the housing market whose health is simply an extension on the wider economy.

“There are 30% fewer homes available to rent on Zoopla than in the pre-pandemic period as landlords have slowed purchases of homes in the face of tax changes and increasing regulation.

“Resetting the local housing allowance in line with the market is an important first step to supporting those under the greatest pressure from the chronic supply/demand imbalance in the private rented sector.”


William Matthews, head of commercial research at Knight Frank, said: “With high inflation having first lifted government receipts, and falling inflation now driving expectations of base rate cuts next year, it was always going to be tempting for the Chancellor to use some of this headroom to ease the tax burden.

“For commercial real estate a few macro announcements stand out. First, a number of business-friendly measures should be supportive of future investment and, ultimately, occupational demand for real estate. Second, increases to benefits and pensions above inflation, and the national insurance cut, add to consumer spending power. Third, while light on detail in the speech, the focus on increasing FDI, in line with the recommendations of Lord Harrington’s recent report, could help attract more capital to the UK.

“Much has been made of the improvement to government finances and improving growth prospects for the UK, but it should be recognised that this backdrop and outlook is changeable, and subject to global macroeconomic shifts that are not always in any Chancellor’s gift to control.”


Richard Davies, COO of Chestertons, said: “Aspiring homeowners will feel disappointed about the Autumn Statement not including measures to help property buyers. Many would have welcomed cutting Stamp Duty which would have resulted in house hunters, who previously paused their property search, to re-enter the market.”

“A stamp duty exemption for downsizers would have also been a crucial step to help those wanting to move to a smaller property. Each year, we meet countless homeowners who are planning to downsize but, due to the Stamp Duty which can be as much as 12%, are put off to do so. A tax exemption would have encouraged downsizing which in turn frees up large, under-occupied family homes.”

“We would have also liked to have seen the chancellor introduce more initiatives to assist young house hunters get on the property ladder. With the cost of living, many are struggling to save up a sufficient deposit or find a property within their budget.”

“Last but not least, tenants have been facing rising rents and limited availability of suitable properties. To bring much needed relief to the lettings market, we would have liked to have seen the Chancellor announce tax incentives for buy-to-let landlords with the aim to boost the number of rental properties. This is particularly needed in London, where the rental market has become increasingly competitive with one single listing attracting numerous tenant applications and viewings.”


John Stephenson, partner at BDB Pitmans, commented: “Jeremy Hunt appeared to be sizing up some adjustments to stamp duty but seems to have decided to wait until the Spring Budget – and closer to the next general election – to make any announcements.
“Hopefully it will be something substantive, as simply adjusting the bands may not really make a long-term difference to buyers, other than injecting some air into the housing market.
“Given that the opposition is currently around 20-points ahead in the polls and has indicated that they are unlikely to change the current levels of stamp duty, and would even consider increasing the rates for certain buyers, it seems unlikely that we will see any actual alteration to stamp duty in the future, at least not until after the General Election.
“The UK has always had a strong propensity toward home ownership over renting – much more than, for example, Europe – and the health of our housing market and the ability for people, especially the young and families, to buy a home, is and will remain an influential factor in people’s opinion of their government.”


Chris Hodgkinson, managing director of House Buyer Bureau, said: “We’ve grown accustomed to the government announcing housing market incentives designed to fuel demand and so an absence of any such initiative today will come as a shock. Instead, they’ve uncharacteristically decided to address the burning issue of supply.

“While this will do little to ignite the property market in the short term, it will be beneficial in the long run, provided they actually deliver on their promises.”


Karen Noye, mortgage commentator at Quilter, commented: “The extension of the mortgage guarantee scheme until June 2025 is really the least the government can do for first time buyers. The scheme has so far not been particularly impactful and will likely continue not to be. Generally, first time buyers will find themselves limited to a maximum of 4.5 times their annual income. For those on the average salary this means they can only borrow just over £150k giving the buyer not much choice in the market. Saving for a bigger deposit or raiding the Bank of Mum and Dad can therefore offer more choice. This extension makes little difference today and had Hunt instead opted to simply get rid of it, it likewise wouldn’t have had much impact.

“With such a high LTV there is also the risk of negative equity, which is a significant concern in this property market, especially for those who purchase properties at peak prices. If the housing market experiences a downturn, individuals who utilised the scheme may find themselves in a challenging financial position, struggling with negative equity and limited mobility. This situation could be further exacerbated if they need to sell their homes, as they would have to cover the negative equity, moving costs, and a new deposit. Therefore, while the scheme’s intentions are positive, it’s crucial to implement measures that ensure long-term stability for new homeowners and the housing market. This might include more stringent eligibility criteria or additional support mechanisms to safeguard against market fluctuations.”


William Reeve, CEO of Goodlord, commented: “The Autumn Statement from the chancellor included an important change to Local Housing Allowance, the metric used to calculate the maximum amount private renters can claim in Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. The announcement today means that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of local market rents.

“The government has stated that this will give 1.6 million households an average of £800 of support. The levels had previously been frozen since 2020, and rents across England have risen 27% since then according to Goodlord’s Rental Index, so this will be welcome news to renters.

“And while many of us are fatigued by new homes pledges that have gone unfulfilled over the years, we are encouraged by some of the initiatives announced today, as well as the new flexibility around converting houses into flats. The government has committed £450m to help local authorities build 2,400 new homes. However, and apologies for butchering an old proverb, every journey towards 300,000 new homes a year must start with the first 2,400 new homes. So it’s just that, a start.”


Mobeen Akram, national new homes account director, Mortgage Advice Bureau, noted: “The government’s announcement that it will be taking action to unblock more than 40,000 homes currently held up by nutrient neutrality mitigation measures is sorely needed. Furthermore, the chancellor’s £110m proposal for high-quality nutrient mitigation schemes should help ease the acute demand for limited housing stock.

“Funding and accountability for local authorities is key, and the creation of new homes should be a boon. We know there’s a strong appetite to buy, despite a backdrop of inflation and interest rate increases, and it’s encouraging to see lenders reducing mortgage rates in response. Nevertheless, we still need more innovative affordability schemes and assessments for buyers of new builds.”


Sherrelle Collman, MD, Caridon Landlord Solutions, added: “The announcement that Universal Credit will be increased by 6.7% and Local Housing Allowance will be increased to cover the cheapest 30% of local market rents is positive news that will make a significant difference to those tenants reliant on support.

Caridon Landlord Solutions has experienced first-hand the increasing financial strain on landlords and tenants receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, exacerbated by the freeze in Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates and subsequent inflationary pressures.

Uprating LHA rates to better align with market rent levels and increasing Universal Credit will not only help to alleviate poverty and prevent homelessness, it will provide lower-income households with access to better housing options and give those private landlords who support this sector the confidence to keep doing so.

It is, however, disappointing that more direct support for private landlords, by way of tax incentives to encourage landlords to invest or at least remain in the market, was not forthcoming.  Rents are high because of the imbalance between supply and demand, and in the absence of meeting new homes targets, professional landlords are the lifeblood of the rental market and should be encouraged and supported to stay.”



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  1. Andrew Stanton - Proptech Realestate Influencer

    A recessionary 2024 globally, UK economy set to flatline, Andrew Bailey trigger happy to increase the base rate if needed, a housing market kicking off the back of reduced starting pipelines of business for residential agents in January, all shapes up for a pretty lack lustre period. Add in a General election the two major conflicts, the CALC and the hangover from the pandemic, well it feels a lot like the early 1990’s or 2010, there will be much consolidation as the industry reacts to these hostile factors. The lettings vertical with ever increasing rents is of course a different story, but for the 30% of agencies without this constant and known flow of revenue it is going to a difficult time.

    1. jan-byers

      AS as usual stating the obvious and thinking he is a genius


    Poor show but I think May will see something more substantial.


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