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On 11 March, the Chancellor delivered the Spring Budget for 2020. The budget details a commitment to building more homes and improving infrastructure. A summary of the changes which will likely impact the Real Estate sector are:
Affordable Homes Programme
• An additional £9.5 billion has been announced, bringing total funding to £12.2 billion from
2021-2022 to build affordable homes across England;
• Additional funds have been made available also for building homes on brownfield land;
• Funds from the Housing Infrastructure Fund have been allocated to 9 different areas
including Manchester, South Sunderland and South Lancashire; and
• A Single Housing Infrastructure Fund has been launched to invest in areas of high
demand across the country.
Building Safety Fund
• Budget confirms an additional £1 billion to remove unsafe cladding from residential
buildings above 18 meters high.
• The government had previously announced that retail businesses including cinemas and
music venues with a rateable value below £51,000 in England would receive a discount of
50%: in order to support small businesses in response to Covid-19, this has been increased
to 100% and includes hospitality and leisure businesses;
• £1,000 business rates discount for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000 had
previously been announced: this has now been increased to £5,000;
• Local newspaper office space discount of £1,500 will be extended for an additional five
years until March 2025; and
• A business rates review will take place and be reported on in the Autumn.
• 2% SDLT surcharge on non-UK residents purchasing residential property in England and
Northern Ireland from 1 April 2021;
• Relief for qualifying housing co-operatives from annual tax on enveloped dwellings
(taking effect from 1 April 2021) and 15% flat rates of SDLT on dwellings over £500,000
(taking effect from the Autumn Budget 2020).
• There are further funds made available to the Land Registry to continue digitising land
registration in England and Wales, and the Land Registry will also transition into part of
The Affordable Homes Programme, relief for housing co-operatives and allocation of infrastructure funding are undoubtedly good news for developers and those looking to purchase a property. For now, there are minimal changes to SDLT and business rates, although with the business rates review on the horizon – and the government’s commitment to exploring reforms to the planning system – significant changes may be announced in the next budget. Watch this space!