The full ramifications of George Osborne’s pronouncements on housing during the Autumn Statement will no doubt take a while to emerge. Some of the rumours of nasty surprises proved to be unfounded. There were some surprises that were broadly positive – such as the increase in stamp duty on Buy-to-let and second homes. And there were some policy changes that didn’t take quite the form that commentators had guessed they might – notably the transfer of the LHA mechanism from the private rented sector to the social housing sector.
Members of the housing blogging community have already been providing valuable, and extended, commentary. If you’ve not seen it already, Joe Sarling provides a helpful overview of the changes in relation to housing supply and the likely impact on affordability and who actually does the building. Brian provides an expansive discussion on a similar theme, drawing in a number of issues and raising a wide range of questions. Whether Osborne’s push to increase owner occupation stands in the way of dealing with the more important issue of affordability is a question that looms large. That his policies can do anything to arrest the decline in the rate of owner occupation is a claim to be treated sceptically. Similarly we must be alive to the possibility that the agenda of the Autumn Statement was less to do with addressing housing issues seriously and more to do with Osborne’s leadership ambitions.
One question of major significance lies in a completely different direction. Does the Autumn Statement represent the death knell for social rented housing? [Read more…]