This is what the property industry wants from the Autumn Statement

 
Helen Cahill
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Can the government get a handle on the housing crisis? (Source: Getty)

The big day is almost here - Autumn Statement day.

The housing crisis has been at the top of the political agenda for years, but successive governments have failed to get a handle on it. Chancellor Philip Hammond is promising new funding to help get Britain building, but the property industry wants a range of measures to be put into place. Here are just a few of them:

Deliver affordable homes - and fast

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) says a whopping 86 per cent of its members do not see any evidence of the government delivering affordable homes in the next 12 months.

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"The government should do more to free up brownfield and unused land, as well as investing more in local council planning departments to speed up approval of applications," said Rics.

The group said to build more homes, the government should distinguish between "bone fide developers", who need a certain amount of land in their development pipeline, and "the far fewer number of speculators who are sitting on land only to sell on at a profit".

"To make this difference clear in policy terms Rics is recommending owners should develop the land within two to three years of receiving permission to build, or sell to those willing and capable to build on it," Rics said.

Andrew Savege, head of regeneration at Morgan Sindall Investments, said:

We’ve still got too many small, publicly-owned sites left untapped. They’re perfect for infill development to boost the supply of affordable housing – we want to see local authorities empowered to work more closely with developers to deliver these at a faster rate.

Help the small and medium house builders

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is calling for the government to help smaller house builders, which are "disproportionately burdened by regulation imposed by agencies and utilities providers that, perhaps understandably, have no interest in housing supply or housing delivery".

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The planning system has made it particularly hard for smaller developers to thrive, the HBF said. Larger housebuilders are better able to adapt to the country's increasingly complicated construction processes.

"For all but the very best-resourced individuals and companies, and those with vast knowledge of the industry, home building has become an impenetrable sector to join," HBF said.

End the levy on properties worth over £1.5m

In the 2014 Autumn Statement, chancellor George Osborne increased stamp duty to 12 per cent on properties worth over £1.5m, and many have argued that this may have been politically popular - but it has caused problems for those further down the housing ladder.

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Isaly Robinson, chief executive of mortgage brokers Enness Private Clients, said: “While activity and values in some areas of the prime property market have been affected, so too has the lower end, impacting first-time buyers and families.

"The increased cost of stamp duty, coupled with inflated house prices, have discouraged people from moving and freeing up property. Downsizers, for example, are staying put, meaning that fewer family homes are available and those that are, are more expensive."

Sort out stamp duty

Another big reform to stamp duty came into effect this year; the increased rate of tax for those buying second homes. HBF said that this, combined with the levy on high-end homes, has started "to act as a drag on the market".

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The group called for a review on the effect transaction taxes are having on the market, because the extra charge on second homes could be damaging supply by putting off large-scale development of private rented sector homes.

Speed up the mortgage process

Mortgages are cheaper than ever, with rates at record lows, but the cost of borrowing is not the only barrier to those wanting to get a loan. Spencer Botchin, director at Sandfords, thinks that the process of getting a mortgage is just too lengthy.

He said: "It’s becoming almost impossible with banks taking too long with mortgage applications. The process needs to be made a lot quicker from start to finish as it’s currently slower than it has ever been due to the questions asked and the processes they go through to get what they need. Common sense at times needs to prevail."

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