Six housing announcements from the Spring Statement 2019

14 March 2019

The Spring Statement 2019 contained six main housing announcements.

Overall, we welcome the announcements, particularly the new £3bn guarantee scheme. However, while this is an important contribution, we’ve also been clear in our response that new money is needed in the next spending review to build more social housing. This is more crucial than ever in the midst of Brexit uncertainty.

As the Comprehensive Spending Review approaches, we will call on the Government to make a transformative, long-term commitment to social housing.

1. £3bn for the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme

This new announcement is very welcome. It allows housing associations to borrow more cheaply, and therefore build more homes.

The Government announced £8bn of housing guarantees in autumn 2017 and we worked closely with MHCLG and a group of members last year to make the case that some of this should be directed to affordable housing specifically. So we are pleased that the Government has now confirmed that, as part of this, £3bn of guarantees will be made available specifically to support housing associations to deliver.

2. A new Infrastructure Finance Review

The Infrastructure Finance Review will be an important opportunity to influence public and private support for infrastructure and housing investment. This will be particularly important given the reduced role of the European Investment Bank after Brexit.

3. Announcements on land and planning measures

The Government made a series of planning announcements in the Spring Statement, including:

  • On the Letwin Review: An agreement with Sir Oliver Letwin’s conclusion that greater diversity of tenure on large sites is crucial to building homes more quickly, and that funding this should come from land value uplift. We welcome this proposal and we will be working with the Government to inform the green paper consultation.
  • On permitted development: The Government has taken on board many of the concerns we expressed in our consultation response, recognising the risks of delivering poor quality homes via bypassing the planning system. We look forward to further engaging with the Government around the details of these proposals.

These announcements show that the Government recognises the issues that hold back housing delivery, and the risks of rushing to deliver poor quality housing via permitted development. But in many cases we believe they have not yet committed to the changes needed to have a significant impact.

4. Consultation on a new Future Homes Standard

This new consultation on a Future Homes Standard could set an important marker for the quality and sustainability of new build homes, and we will work closely with members to develop a response to this when it’s launched.

5. Housing Infrastructure Fund and vision for the Ox-Cam Arc

The Government made further announcements of successful bids to the Housing Infrastructure Fund, and a new vision document for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. Our work with members across the Arc has fed into this and we are working closely with the Government as it develops.

6. Confirmed timings for the Comprehensive Spending Review

The Government has announced that, unless there is a No Deal Brexit, a full three-year spending review will launch this summer, with the results announced at the Autumn Budget.

Further information

The Government has published a useful overview of the Spring Statement on their website. We will be analysing the details and publishing more information soon.