Summer Statement: Chancellor unveils new measures for housing | News

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Summer Statement: Chancellor unveils new measures for housing

The Chancellor has set out plans to help the housing sector in his Summer Statement.

Already announced were measures on energy efficiency, including a £50m investment in social housing pilot projects and vouchers of £5,000 for home owners looking to make energy savings.

Rishi Sunak used the statement to cut Stamp Duty for all homes up to £500,000 until 31 March 2021 in a bid to get the market moving again, another policy heavily trailed before the speech.

But there was nothing for social housing, despite calls from Sadiq Khan and others to invest heavily to bring about a much-needed revival.

Also in the statement, Sunak outlined plans for 16-14 year-olds who are receiving Universal Credit to get subsidised work placements, in a bid to get more young people into the job market.

Between March and May, the number of those aged 24 and under claiming Universal Credit rose by 250,000 to almost 500,000.

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier, Sunak said: "One of the most important sectors for job creation is housing. The construction sector adds £39bn a year to the UK economy; house building alone supports nearly three quarter of a million jobs; with millions more relying on the availability of housing to find work.

"But property transactions fell by 50% in May, house prices have fallen for the first time in eight years and uncertainty abounds in the market – a market we need to be thriving.

"We need people feeling confident - confident to buy, sell, renovate, move and improve. That will drive growth. That will create jobs.

"So to catalyse the housing market and boost confidence, I have decided today to cut stamp duty. Right now, there is no stamp duty on transactions below £125,000.

"Today, I am increasing the threshold to half a million pounds. This will be a temporary cut running until 31st March next year. And, as is always the case, these changes to stamp duty will take effect immediately.

"The average stamp duty bill will fall by £4,500. And nearly nine out of ten people buying a main home this year, will pay no stamp duty at all."

And while the speech was not welcomed by everyone in the sector, it did have some supporters. 

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “I welcome strongly the package of measures announced today. While these initial investments will kickstart construction and training, the Government must build on these commitments in the Autumn to ensure that growth and jobs are sustained beyond next year.”

On the Stamp Duty cuts, Berry added: "Temporary cuts in Stamp Duty will boost the housing market and remove a black cloud that hangs over many second-time house hunters. I’m particularly pleased this is taking place with immediate effect, as we know that potential homeowners typically look for a new home in September.

"Today’s confirmation of the extension of the Home Building Fund targeted at SMEs is also welcome.

"Looking ahead to measures to rebuild the economy, investment in planning departments and streamlining of the planning application process will be needed to ensure we also bring forward new development to ease our housing crisis.”