Hammond’s budget offered nothing that would even start to address the housing affordability crisis. It was more of the failed Tory approach: stimulate demand amongst first-time buyers to get stalled property prices rising again, a £3bn bung to help private developers hoard land or build unaffordable homes, £400m for estate demolition and social cleansing, and chicken feed to support local authorities to build social homes.
In a feeble nod to Theresa May’s promise of ‘a new generation of council houses’, the chancellor announced a £1bn extension of borrowing capacity from 2019/20 for councils in ‘high demand areas’ to fight over, as long as they had their plans in place by 2021/22. At the government’s estimate of a subsidy of £80,000 per house, this equals 6,250 homes per year for two years. To put that in context, since 2012 the country has lost 33,000 of its social homes through right to buy.
Any local authority struggling to pay for essential fire safety work should contact the government ‘immediately’, but Hammond didn’t say why in that he committed no explicit funding to pay for it.
And for housing associations? An increase in targeted ‘affordability funding’ to subsidise out-of-reach homes by £125m over the next two years, none of which would go to London, much to Sadiq Khan’s consternation.
And that was it.