Budget 2024: Industry reaction

As ever, the property industry was quick to react to today's announcements (or lack of them). Here's what they're saying.

Related topics:  Finance,  Property,  Housing,  Budget
Property | Reporter
6th March 2024
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"Anyone planning to get on the property ladder would have shrugged their shoulders following this Budget"
- Tom Bill - Knight Frank

Richard Donnell, Executive Director at Zoopla comments: “The budget marks another missed opportunity to take action on boosting supply and mortgage availability in the housing market.

“The consensus is that the country needs more new homes. Supply has increased but this has stalled. There is a need for widespread reform of the planning system to encourage supply. More funding is needed for social and affordable homes, and housing infrastructure investment to unlock supply.

“The Government should also look to support the emergence of a long-term fixed rate mortgage market as a matter of urgency. This will help more young people with smaller deposits access home ownership - particularly in southern England where deposit size is the biggest barrier to getting on the housing ladder.”

“Another missed opportunity is the decision not to make the £625,000 threshold for first-time buyer relief permanent. This means 30% more first-time buyers will be liable to pay full stamp duty from March next year.”

Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark comments: “It is pleasing to see property taxation under the spotlight in the Spring Budget and the introduction of measures to level the playing field and support more homes for people to rent.

However, overall, the Spring Budget stops short of addressing the key issue of lack of supply in the private rented sector which is higher rates of Stamp Duty when purchasing a buy-to-let property. Furthermore, whilst additional funding is welcome for housebuilding, the Chancellor has missed the opportunity to bring in Stamp Duty reliefs and wider reforms to support more people to buy and sell their dream home which comes with a guaranteed boost to the economy.”

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “The Chancellor has once again ignored calls to revitalise long-term investment in quality rented homes in favour of tinkering at the margins for short-term gain.

“Increasing taxes on holiday lets and cuts to Capital Gains Tax will make no meaningful difference to the supply of long-term rental properties. Meanwhile, those reliant on housing benefits still do not know if their benefits will be frozen from next year or not.

“With an average of 11 tenants chasing every home for private rent, social housing waiting lists at 1.3 million, almost 110,000 households in temporary accommodation and the number of first-time buyers slumping, the Budget needed to tackle the housing crisis once and for all.  What we got was a deafening silence.

“This was a missed opportunity to make providing new homes to rent and buy the priority it desperately needs to be.”

Adam Oldfield, chief revenue officer at Phoebus Software, said: “That was a most underwhelming Budget announcement for the housing market, particularly considering it is an election year.

“At least this time round stamp duty got a mention, albeit a fairly token effort when you consider the echoing calls for bona fide stamp duty reform. Had the Chancellor decided to cut stamp duty for all buyers, from first-timers to next-timers to down-sizers, that could have been a real boost across the residential housing market. 

“Perhaps, though, it will be enough that the OBR expects inflation to come down to below two per cent in the coming months. We should then be out of recession, and hopefully, that might trigger the Bank of England to drop interest rates, swap rates will settle, and the housing market will pick up again.”

Joe Pepper, Chief Executive Officer at PEXA UK, said: “Housing will inevitability be a key battleground in the upcoming election, so a flagship policy to turbocharge the market’s recovery was conspicuous by its absence from this Budget. Reducing capital gains tax, and tinkering with tax reliefs for second homes may stimulate some activity at the margins, but it won’t move the dial meaningfully.

"Not only did we need measures to boost affordability and drive transactions in a market characterised by economic uncertainty and high rates, but we also desperately needed to see a commitment to helping reform the infrastructure that supports it. Without investing in any long-term fixes, the government, incumbent or otherwise, will see reduced returns on its housing market investment – and a lost opportunity to boost UK productivity.”

Simon McWhirter, Deputy Chief Executive at UKGBC said: “Unfortunately we’re yet again seeing vote-chasing sticking-plaster politics as opposed to the longer-term political leadership we so desperately need. The Chancellor has failed to address the urgent need for upgrading our homes and buildings in this budget, which wouldn’t just help address the climate crisis, but also directly tackle rising energy bills, poor-quality homes and provide a jobs boost into the economy.”

Liam Monaghan, London Central Portfolio, said: "Although we realistically did not expect there to be any changes to SDLT for downsizers, it is something the industry needs. Whether a reduction or freeze, this would have been a great initiative to free up much-needed stock at the top end of the market, which would have led to a healthy trickledown effect within the market.

"Especially as there has been numerous press attention highlighting how high stamp duty costs is one of the main reasons stopping them from moving. It is not just a demand problem, it is a supply issue too. Downsizers are sitting on a number of much-needed family homes. The Government could have made a real difference here, so it’s such a shame that they haven’t.

"It's also disappointing that inheritance tax wasn’t a topic. It was something we were hoping for in the Autumn Statement and again for the Spring Budget. This would not only have been a wise and popular move for the Conservatives this close to a general election, but it would have helped the UK be more competitive on a global platform for overseas investment, helping to boost the general UK economy.

"It would also help build momentum in transaction volumes and price growth for the domestic market."

CEO of Lomond, Ed Phillips, commented: “Disappointing to see the UK property market receive the Budget cold shoulder yet again following what was a lacklustre Autumn Statement. 

"However, the property market has weathered a tough few months and has held firm despite many predictions of an impending collapse. We’ve also seen early signs that buyers are returning despite interest rates remaining at their highest since 2008 and this has also caused house prices to start to creep up. 

"This resilient performance is no doubt why the Government has chosen to refrain from any property focussed initiative in the Spring Budget and it’s very much a case of no news is good news in this respect.”

Yann Murciano, CEO at Blend, said: "Where was the boost in housing supply…?

"As a development finance lender working closely with SME property developers trying to channel much-needed funding into new housing, we were very disappointed to see that in today’s Spring Budget, the government missed a golden opportunity to introduce measures that tackle the supply side of the property market.

"Failure to support the supply of housing with well-targeted tax incentives will risk further deepening the affordability gap. With a raging housing crisis, it was disappointing to see the government ignore the critical issue of housing and instead focus on less relevant themes such as freezing alcohol duty.

"The past few months have seen statistics pointing to a more positive outlook for the UK property market. However, recovering demand without addressing the shortage of supply risks creating a ticking time bomb by further inflating prices in the medium to long term and pricing out first-time buyers.

"According to Savills' latest English Housing Supply Update, delivery of new homes was 9% lower in 2023 than in 2022, with annual completions falling to 231,100 homes. This marks the fifth consecutive quarter of falling annual delivery.

"Meanwhile Office for National Statistics figures for construction output for housebuilding were at 82% of 2019 levels in November 2023, suggesting an increase in delivery in the near-term is unlikely. Lack of funding, especially among SME property developers and small construction companies, is a key reason for this and today only 12% of newly built homes are built by small builders, down from 40% in 1988.

"We had expected the Spring Budget to contain some targeted measure to support the country’s housebuilding industry."

Tom Bill, Head of UK Residential Research at Knight Frank, said: “Anyone planning to get on the property ladder would have shrugged their shoulders following this Budget.

"Demand-side incentives for first-time buyers such as stamp duty breaks or help for those with smaller deposits would have been welcome, particularly as mortgage rates and house prices are creeping back up. We may discover later this year if the government intends to offer more support to buyers, whose mobility around the UK is vital for an economy that is firing back up after Covid.”

Will Matthews, Head of Commercial Research at Knight Frank, said: "Overall, a budget with little fanfare, suggesting a gamble on more excitement this Autumn, and limited direct impact for the UK’s commercial real estate markets.

"The headline cut in national insurance was couched as an incentive to work, but as acknowledged in the reference to almost 1m current job vacancies, there isn’t all that much labour market slack left to take up. Helpful, yes – but of itself, unlikely to have firms dusting off expansion plans.

"There were plenty of nods to growth sectors – innovation, life sciences, film studios, to name a few. Again, helpful, but the sums and measures involved were not game-changing.

"Perhaps of greater immediate interest to the commercial real estate sector are the OBR’s revised forecasts. These now point to significantly lower inflation and somewhat higher growth over the coming years, and although largely just playing catch-up with City views, this new outlook is more supportive of much-anticipated interest rate cuts.

"Big questions over the level of public sector funding remain. What is clear, however, is that the private sector will be called upon to make up some of the shortfall in UK infrastructure investment - in the broadest sense."


Mark Perry, Chief Executive at VIVID, said: “Despite announcements around support for several specific development projects, the need for significant investment to drive the delivery of housing of all types and tenures, especially affordable homes, failed to be addressed in today’s Budget.

"Without investment across the board, from planning authorities to grant rates, and without support for a long-term housing plan here in the UK, the existing crisis will only be exacerbated to the country’s further detriment. Given that future investment in UK housing stands to generate long-term economic and social benefit as well as Treasury savings, it was disappointing this wasn’t recognised in today’s Budget.”

Matt Hutchinson, SpareRoom, said: comments: "Today's announcement is an important step. We don't have enough houses, so using the properties we have better is crucial to making sure renters have affordable options. That's why SpareRoom has been campaigning for the government to start prioritising homes over holiday lets and level the tax playing field.

"Every major town and city in the UK saw rents hit all-time highs last year and the days of the housing crisis being just a London thing are long gone.

"However, it's important to note that this is just one step. We got into this mess because successive governments have failed to plan long-term and build enough to keep up with demand. We do need more homes, but we also have to use the ones we have better. Sending out the message that we prioritise long-term residential lets over short-term lets is a start."

Sam Mitchell, CEO of Purplebricks, said: "Following the government’s decision to not move forward with the 99% Mortgage Guarantee scheme without a proposed alternative - a terrible move in the middle of a housing crisis - the government should refocus their efforts on the most significant factor in the crisis: lack of housing stock. The serious issues in the housing market won’t be solved by rehashing temporary boosts to housing demand that only serve to move up prices, not transactions. It’s the supply-side programmes that will really support a healthy first-time buyer market.

"So the Chancellor’s announcement today of £242m in investment to support the building of 8,000 new homes in the UK is a positive step in the right direction. But more needs to be done to address the issue that has been compounding since the mass sell-off of council houses in the 1980s, without another initiative to offset the longer-term impact on housing stock in the UK.

"Expanding social stock through a large-scale social housing building programme should be a priority, to reduce long social waitlists that are putting pressure on the private sector. Without this intervention, rent will continue to skyrocket, making it near impossible for renters to save for a deposit.”

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