Tarmac’s Dr Bill’s Budget Blog
The Chancellor’s 2016 Budget set a target of a million new homes by 2020 (200k per year), which looks very encouraging for the building trade and the Merchant sector.
Unfortunately, the actual number of new housing starts last year was only around 110k, so without a step change the target is unlikely to be met.
What will trigger this ‘step change’? Changes to the planning process in order to speed up applications and release land for development will help, as will measures to help first time buyers. Will this be enough, or is more needed to keep up the necessary momentum?
There is a growing view that the long term trend is for renting to replace home ownership as the norm. Currently there is a perception that ‘buy to rent’ mortgages are a bad thing for the aspiring homeowner, but if this trend is real, perhaps encouragement of this maligned form of lending will act as a stimulus for increasing the rate of new housing start. I’m sure this debate will provoke a wide range of conflicting opinions around the dinner table (or more likely on social media).
On the infrastructure front, continuing commitment to HS2 and the development of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is also good news. It is clear that the Government has big plans which should benefit the industry as a whole, but as ever the key is the delivery of the plans not just announcing them in Parliament.
On a more domestic scale, Easter is very early this year and the usual mild weather associated with the Easter Bank Holiday weekend seems to be conspicuous by its absence. There are dire predictions about transport chaos for the road, rail and air networks. These may signal that the usual DIY activities of the Easter weekend are on hold in favour of getting away from it all.
However, the clocks change soon and lighter evenings (and hopefully warmer temperatures) will temp more of us outside to complete last year’s unfinished project and give hard working builders more time to work on projects.
Here’s looking forward to the onset of a ‘real’ spring!