What’s in Budget 2020?

11 Mar 20

Yes, significant sums were announced by way of investment, but in terms of the impact on the property sector the budget did feel a bit like a damp squib; we’re hoping Robert Jenrick’s Planning White Paper does not end up the same

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‘If the country needs it we will build it’. That was the Chancellor’s promise in today’s Budget but did the Budget really live up to the soundbite?

Yes, significant sums were announced by way of investment, but in terms of the impact on the property sector the budget did feel a bit like a damp squib; we’re hoping Robert Jenrick’s Planning White Paper does not end up the same.

The considerably large pot for infrastructure projects is indeed welcome, as well as the focus on technology and creating a low carbon future. But disappointingly there was also a big emphasis on the strategic road network in the Chancellor’s speech, arguably more so than the more sustainable railways – surely this is a contradictory message? Yes our roads need investment, and fixing potholes is always a vote winner, but we need to also think about helping this country move sustainably, HS2 is not the only answer.

Although not ground-breaking in its announcements, and with some glaring omissions – what happened to the Stamp Duty changes? – there were some nuggets in today’s budget that are of interest to us. We have set out below the key headlines (a summary only) that could impact the property sector, and certainly highlight the Government’s direction of travel.

Housing – Additional £9.5 billion for the Affordable Homes Programme; £1.1 billion from the Housing Infrastructure Fund for nine areas including Manchester, South Sunderland and South Lancaster, unlocking up to 69,620 homes; new £400 million brownfield fund with the government inviting bids from ambitious local authorities and regions; and Long-term Spatial Framework to support the growth in the Oxford-Cambridge arc with the potential for up to four new development corporations.

Transport – A yearly £500 million pothole fund for 2020-21 and 2024-25; £4.5 billion for integrated transport settlements; commitment to the Lower Thames Crossing, A303 tunnel, dualling the A66 Trans-Pennine and other strategic road improvements; and £20 million to develop the Midlands Rail Hub.

Devolution – A English Devolution White Paper to be published in the summer; and New devolution deal agreed for West Yorkshire to establish a new metro mayor from May 2021.

Transforming Cities – £1 billion for the Transforming Cities Fund, to deliver schemes such as improving the Tyne and Wear Metro system, and new rapid bus links in several locations; and £4.2 billion fund for the transport networks of eight city regions.

Science and Research – Boost to skills and education to these sectors; and increasing funding to £22 billion per year by 2024-25 in Research & Development.

Low Carbon Future – Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Infrastructure Fund to establish at least two new CCS sites; £500 million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure; and £304 million pot to help local authorities improve air quality.

Mobile and broadband – Funds to improve rural mobile coverage; and £5 billion for gigabit broadband rollout. 

Flood defences – £5.2 billion investment

Today’s Budget marked a bold step forward for the new government; bold in terms of the scale of the stimulus that was proposed (who would have thought we would see a Conservative government advocating this level of public expenditure?) but also a bold vision articulated by the new Chancellor to ‘level up’ the country.

We’ll see shortly whether these ambitious ‘Johnson-omics’ are echoed in the highly anticipated planning reforms.

Gina Murgatroyd Consultant,Engagement

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