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Budget 2017: What’s next? 

Posted 22/11/2017

by Patrick McNamara

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No public sector bureaucracy, no vested interests and “deeds not words”. This is what I took to be the three essential calling cards highlighted in Sajid Javid’s speech in Bristol last Thursday.

But since this positive, forward-looking speech, the Westminster rumour mill have suggested that there will not be such a strong position put forward in the Chancellor’s Budget later today. The story goes that Javid wanted a serious investment of £50billion, whereas the Chancellor would rather that it be in the £5billion region with a review of the Green Belt. This is where number 10 became involved, with Whips organising informal petitions which suggest there would be a revolt about Green Belt release.

From this pre-budget saga, we have seen a huge amount of public sector bureaucracy, multiple vested interests, and who knows what deeds have been signed. All of this is happening at a time when the average first time buyer is 32, paying eight times their income for their new home, and if they’re lucky enough to be in London, saving £90,000 for a deposit.

This political posturing is suggestive of a government without a clear plan for building homes; but a penchant for slogans and a need to balance competing interests.

So where will be come 12.30pm. The latest news is that there will be no Green Belt review, but there will be some extra cash for Local Authority housebuilding and the commissioning of public land to build on. This will come under the backdrop of increased money for Right to Buy, which may dilute some Local Authority housebuilding that would come forward.

Ultimately, the message seems to be one of compromise. The DCLG camp have suggested that the HCA will have more powers to be aggressive – and Javid’s recent remarks about calling in 15 Local Plans suggests aggression will be central to his approach. However, whether they will have the funds to enact new powers is another thing – they may well be muted by the figures from the Chancellor, but this will wait to be seen.

So who has got the power? And, will there be the money to impact any change? Let’s see if the housing industry has some answers come this afternoon.