Industry bodies such as the British Property Federation and Chartered Institute for Housing have finalised their Autumn Statement submissions. They have urged the government to:
- Consider changes to the SDLT surcharge on additional homes, which would provide a shot in the arm to the Build to Rent sector;
- Introduce clearer national planning policy for Build to Rent developments;
- Allow flexibility on space standards by up to 10%;
- Introduce greater flexibility to the current Affordable Homes Programme, which allocates £4 billion mainly to shared ownership products and rent to buy, to allow for a larger number of rented homes;
- Restart the Affordable Homes Guarantee, which was popular and would have been subscribed to if it had been extended beyond March 2016;
- Reshape and extend the housing revenue account borrowing programme for local authorities and exempt them from the remaining stages of the scheme to cut local authority rents in return for extra investment in rented homes;
- Rethink planning gain requirements to give local authorities more flexibility to meet housing need;
- Increase in investment in the government’s £140 million regeneration loan fund of £300 million;
- A new incentivised tax break initiative to improve standards in the private rented sector;
- A new social impact bond to help prevent homelessness in the private rented sector.
Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of CIH, said, “We welcome the level of focus on housing by the government recently. We believe the Autumn Statement is the opportunity to turn this commitment into action and build a substantial amount of new properties at affordable rents.
“This is the only way we can really begin to tackle our housing crisis and make sure people of all incomes have access to a home they can afford. We have suggested a number of focused measures we believe could achieve this without significant extra spending in our submission.”
Meanwhile, figures released by the British Property Federation show that in the past year the amount of build to rent units in with planning permission, under construction or completed in the UK has surged by over 200% to 67,000 units. UK regions have seen an increase of almost 400%, from 7,000 units in October 2015 to over 34,000 a year on.
The BPF has stressed that although these figures are encouraging, the sector could be delivering far more homes. This is particularly the case at the moment, as investors, with a potential £50 billion to invest, look for stable income and investment sectors that will be relatively unaffected by any Brexit market turbulence.
“The build to rent sector has been one of the good news stories of the housing market over the past few years and it is great to see quality rental homes now coming on to the market at scale,” said Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation. “The truth is the sector could be delivering so much more, however, if it can find the opportunities and maintain confidence to invest.
“The Brexit negotiation period provides a window of opportunity to channel even further investment into this form of housing supply. The sector was kick started a few years ago with support from government and further modest planning and SDLT changes we believe could firmly send it into overdrive.”