Chancellor Rishi Sunak has taken the House of Commons and indeed the world by storm in his debut Budget and announced a £30 billion pound commitment to support the economy during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak straight out of the gate.
While most of the announcements focussed on the human element and promises of unlimited funding support for the NHS throughout the crisis; the government has worked with the Bank of England to deliver a workable fiscal policy in these trying times.
Of particular merit to the property industry is that businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors (museums, gyms, hotels etc.) , with rateable values of less than £51,000 , will for the next tax year , enjoy a 100% rate relief. That’s right - No Business Rates for one year if a business falls into this category.
Small businesses in this category who are eligible for small business relief will receive a £3,000 cash grant per business to allow them assistance with their fixed costs.
No increase on alcohol duty taxes for this year will give a relief to pubs, in addition to a business rate discount of £5,000 business rate discount for the next tax year.
£120 million is made immediately available to repair flood defences caused by the recent storms and a further £200 million for flood resilience measures is due to roll out giving homes and business the opportunity to shore up against floods/flood risks.
In regards to housing; the chancellor spent all of about 5 mins discussing one of the key tenets of the manifesto which was tackling the matter of housing. Announcements were lacking in detail (but there again, this was no ordinary budget) ; but seemed to indicate the following:
- Affordable homes multiyear settlement of £12bn
- Lending rates for social housing is being cut by 1% point.
- £1.1 bn housing infrastructure fund to build circa 70,000 houses in areas of high need across the country.
Significantly, for the investment market, Stamp Duty Surcharge to Non-UK Residents will be introduced at a rate of 2% from April 2021 which is a move that will likely boost sales of property from overseas in the short term, but put off investment long term.
There will be £400 m support fund allocated to support ambitions to build on brownfield sites alongside ‘Comprehensive Planning system reforms’ to be announced on 12th March.
There have also been announcements to inject £650m to help rough sleepers into permanent homes by establishing 6,000 beds.
In a comprehensive statement on building safety; the Chancellor announced
new public funding for high rise residential buildings in creating a £1bn Building Safety Fund for 18m+ high buildings in response to calls from experts, select committees and the opposition.
The move aims to ensure all unsafe combustible cladding will be removed from every private and social residential unit above 18m high while the housing secretary will ensure that developers and building owners will ‘do their fair share.’
The announcements today also revealed a heavy investment in infrastructure, providing opportunities for businesses to get involved in the shape of the nation’s future built environment needs at an early stage. While the specifics and delivery of these ambitious programs have yet to be worked out; Chancellor Rishi has taken a decisive stance to deal with the crisis immediately at hand and given a minor hint of the years to come during this parliament.
Let’s hope they can indeed “Get it done”