Tree house

MORE DETAILS are emerging about housing-related measures in today’s pre-Budget report (see story below):

  • The target for the number of people helped by shared equity schemes by 2017 has been increased from 100,000 to 160,000. This will mainly be through schemes that do not involve government money but the government will be launching a competition to involve lenders in a shared equity scheme for people who want to buy 50-70% of a home rather than the current 75%

  • Introduction of the planning gain supplement has been delayed until early 2016 at the earliest pending more consultation on the details (see chapter 3 of the main report)
  • The Housing Corporation will be expected to make 18% efficiency savings over the next spending review period.

In initial reactions, HHSE and the National Housing Federation presented a united front in calling for new social rented housing to take priority over shared equity. HHSE’s Adam Sampson said: ‘Expanding shared equity schemes may be good news for a lucky few first time buyers and will free up some social lets for those in housing need. However, providing these schemes does nothing to help those who will never be able to afford to buy, even with government help.’ The NHF’s David Orr said: ‘Shared equity schemes alone will not end the housing misery of millions of people on moderate and low incomes.’

Up to 160,000 people will be helped into home ownership schemes by 2017, according to the report of the Shared Equity Task Force. It said this was double the orginal plan, although the target was already 100,000 at the open market homebuy launch in October. The increase is accounted for by a combination of the procurement gains expected in the spending review, greater involvement from the private sector and some expansion of the market.

Not much reaction so far to the apparently dramatic announcement on the environment and new homes. The plan is to use the Code on Sustainable Homes, which is being launched next week and will apply to publicly-funded homes, as an outrider for tightening up the building regulations, which apply to all homes, so that all new homes will be ‘zero carbon’ by 2016. Expect critics to point out that:

  • Nothing is being done about existing homes, which account for most of housing’s carbon emissions
  • The last time the building regulations were changed on energy efficiency they were watered down
  • Although exemption from stamp duty for zero carbon homes is being dangled as a carrot, cuts in VAT or council tax might have achieved more
  • Last but not least, nobody actually seems to know what a ‘zero carbon’ home is!