In this week’s Autumn Statement Hunt highlighted 110 growth measures in his speech including a vast number of supply-side reforms to incentivise businesses to invest across a number of growth industries including clean energy, advanced manufacturing and life sciences, projecting substantial private investment gains.
Nevertheless, the Chancellor’s intentions extended beyond corporate offerings. A year before a General Election, the Chancellor outlined a retail-oriented proposal, which entails an immediate 2% reduction in National Insurance for over 27 million individuals. In addition, alcohol duty remains frozen across the board, Universal Credit will see an increase above the inflation rate, and, after much speculation, the triple lock will continue in the future. But did we see enough support for housing?
Unlocking Housing Growth and Reforming Planning
The government is allocating an additional £32 million to housing and planning efforts to unlock thousands of homes across the country. This includes addressing planning backlogs in Local Planning Authorities (LPA) and streamlining the system through a new Permitted Development Right, allowing for the conversion of one house into two homes. Notably, funding will expedite the delivery of high-quality housing in key regions like Cambridge, Leeds, and London. This move is anticipated to reduce delays, enhance efficiency, and encourage business investment.
While these measures are a step in the right direction, particularly regarding the planning system which is in much need of material reform, there was a noted absence of other tax reforms such as that to the Stamp Duty Land Tax.
In line with supporting housing growth, the government reaffirmed its commitment to investing in infrastructure. This includes support for the Cambridge Delivery Group’s vision for Cambridge, potentially through a development corporation. The government reaffirmed its commitment to key projects like East West Rail and a West Yorkshire mass transit system, with substantial funding allocations.
Nutrient Mitigation and Affordable Homes
The government is earmarking £110 million for the Local Nutrient Mitigation Fund to aid LPAs affected by nutrient neutrality rules. This funding will enable the development of nutrient-offsetting schemes, potentially unlocking up to 40,000 homes over the next five years. Moreover, the government is extending support for affordable housing through an extension of the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme, which will deliver 20,000 new homes and enhance existing ones.
R&D and Technology Investment
Beyond housing, the government is bolstering research and development (R&D) and technology sectors, with substantial funding commitments in various industries. Notably, £4.5 billion in support over five years will attract private investment in automotive, aerospace, life sciences, and green industry growth accelerators – designed to foster economic growth.