Sitematch community responds to Autumn Statement

Fri 25th November 2016, 10:31 am

Members of the Sitematch community reveal what stood out for them in the chancellor Philip Hammondís Autumn Statement.

L-R: Reza Merchant, CEO of The Collective; Scott Cardwell, assistant director for development at Doncaster Council; Chris Twigg, director at Inner Circle Consulting

Reza Merchant, CEO of development company The Collective, struggled to find merit in abolishing upfront letting fees: “Although the government’s ban on upfront letting fees is commendable in spirit, it is hard to see how these proposals are going to make a meaningful difference for the growing number of private renters in the UK.

"While it will be a welcome relief for some tenants that fees are no longer paid up front, the subsequent loss of earnings for estate agents will invariably be passed on to landlords, and back to tenants in the form of rent rises. At The Collective, we let our rooms directly to our community, so don’t ask residents for deposits when they move in. However, it remains to be seen whether these changes will have a positive effect on the wider rental market.”

Scott Cardwell, assistant director for development at Doncaster Council, was more positive: "Although much of the detail is to follow, the promise of funding relating to infrastructure and housing is welcomed, as it really can make a difference to the viability of developments helping to bridge gaps that the private sector sometimes just can’t fill.”

Jenny Kay, senior surveyor at Sitematch Adviser Montagu Evans, summed up her reaction on the Autumn Statement as "a mixed result". "[There was] at least some acknowledgment that home ownership is not the only form of tenure suitable for everyone and that rented products are important in the mixed housing economy," she said. 

"It appears that there is no change to the starter homes policy, which will mean that rented and shared ownership units on Section 106 sites will reduce in number, leaving housing associations to continue to compete for other sites on the open market.

"There is nothing that will fundamentally alter the challenge many councils are currently facing – growing lists of people in expensive temporary accommodation, often unsuited to their needs and a significant drain on public funds."

And finally Chris Twigg, director at Inner Circle Consulting concluded that certain proposals could lead to a boost in housebuilding: "We help public sector organisations prepare for regeneration and development and help them deliver it, therefore the biggest positive we can take from the Autumn Statement is the £23 billion of investment in infrastructure and innovation to improve Britain's long-term productivity.

"We work with many authorities, supporting them to set-up direct delivery vehicles that can both meet need and make the most of public assets to provide a sustainable income for public services in the future. The £1.7 billion to speed up the construction of new homes on public sector land could provide a huge boost to many local authority housing programmes and provides the impetus to continue the entrepreneurial journey that many councils are already on." 

Government policy will be one of the topics debated at the next Sitematch London, taking place on 8 February 2017 at The Shard. To secure your place at the event, contact Josie Brewer on 020 7978 6840.

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