Yesterday’s Budget proved the dampest of squibs as far as the housing market was concerned. And it was the subject that dared not speak its name.
Indeed, Chancellor Philip Hammond mentioned the H word – “housing” – only once.
That was some three-quarters of an hour into his speech and was purely in the context of opportunities for young people.
Hammond then went on to talk about education.
There was general anger and disbelief in the industry that there was nothing about the housing crisis, the Housing White Paper, Stamp Duty Land Tax, the ban on letting agent fees, the phased withdrawal of tax relief on mortgage interest for landlords, or the call for views on how the housing buying process could be speeded up – a call which went out in last March’s Budget and which then Chancellor George Osborne said at the time would be made “shortly”.
Paul Smith, CEO of Spicerhaart, slammed the “merry-go-round” of housing ministers – nine since 2007 – and endless housing initiatives – over 200 since 2007.
He said: “The Budget marks another missed opportunity to create fundamental reform to the UK’s long-suffering property market.
“The housing minister merry-go-round has left housing issues at the periphery of government thinking and strategy.
“Continually kept at an arm’s length, they’re incapable of tackling the deeper seated issues within the housing market – leading to a plethora of initiatives that tamper with rather than tactically reform the market.”
An uncharacteristically terse Russell Quirk, of eMoov, said: “Zip. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.
“A bitterly disappointing, lacklustre Budget by Mr Hammond in terms of addressing the current UK housing crisis. It is clear he is continuing the head in the sand approach of those before him.”
Matt Robinson of Nested said: “It was surprising to note that there was not one policy aimed at housing.”
David Westgate, chief executive of Andrews Property Group, said: “That the Chancellor did not address key housing issues is disappointing.”
Glynis Frew, chief executive of Hunters Property Plc, said: “We are disappointed to see tax relief for landlords is still due to be cut next month.
“The buy-to-let market has already seen a substantial hit from the second home Stamp Duty levy and this further strain on landlords will undoubtedly adversely affect the property market.
“This could mean landlords opting to come out of the PRS, creating reduced supply or increased costs which could again mean an increase in rents.
“The more average rents rise, the more ownership figures fall. This is a bad decision which will affect not only landlords but renters, first-time buyers and second steppers.”
James Davis, CEO of online letting agent Upad, said: “It must be a first that there was no mention of housing in the Budget.”