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18th March 2020

Budget 2020: The Highlights from a Real Estate perspective

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.

Business rates

• 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.

SDLT

• 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).

Land Registry

• 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    
   central government.

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!
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