Seven Questions for George Osborne's Budget
The Housing sector is watching keenly this week as George Osborne unveils his latest budget. There are a number of key issues that are running at the moment. Here are some of the questions I am hoping to see answered:
1. Who will build the new homes?
Some of the policy decisions made in this budget will give hints about who the Chancellor thinks will deliver the new homes target that he has set. Look out for incentives and/or funding pots.
2. Will there be anything in it for rented tenants?
The last year has seen the ownership agenda pushed, with schemes like Help to Buy. Tenants have felt a little left out, and in the case of removing lifetime tenancies, even a little penalised. There is a feeling that the Conservatives don’t want to cater for a group that is unlikely to ever vote for them. Will that feeling be proved wrong?
3. What incentives will there be for development outside the South East?
I’ve mentioned before that I think the North of England is a huge area of untapped potential. It’s not just about housing though. Incentives for new business and new industry need to go alongside housing to create more opportunity. George Osborne has pushed the Northern powerhouse agenda before but missing the chance to push it again might suggest he is cooling off on the idea.
4. How will the Government protect those becoming homeless?
Tenancy pressures have increased with Universal Credit and rising costs of living. This pressure will increase homelessness in the long run. Has the Government begun to consider how to manage that effect?
5. Will energy companies be taken to task for charging more to their most loyal customers?
This has really come into focus recently as billing problems have highlighted some of the pain felt by those on low incomes when paying energy bills. The Government could do more to regulate the activities of the big players; will they take the opportunity to do so?
6. Will the word “affordable” continue to be misused?
The concept of affordability within housing has been stretched to the edge of its credibility, particularly in London. Despite widening its scope, the build figures are still falling. Further pushing of the word in the wrong context could mean the end of affordable housing being affordable.
7. Will Millennials feel hard done by?
The increase in articles focusing on the situation facing Millennials, people born from 1982 to 2000, has risen sharply recently. Depending on your angle they are entitled and lazy, or burdened with cleaning up the mess caused by those older than them. How the group feel after this budget will be telling. Will George Osborne do anything to court their favour?
The budget always carries a wide array of interesting implications. These are just some of them. Are there any issues that carry great weight for you? Is there a quick win the Government can make to gain your approval?
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