Here's what Budget 2017 could mean for the UK housing market

 
Emma Haslett
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Housebuilders are hoping for changes to planning laws (Source: Getty)

As with most Budgets, this Wednesday's fiscal extravaganza has been heavily trailed by the government - so it should come as a surprise to few that one of the main focuses is expected to be solving the UK's housing crisis.

In advance of the speech, Theresa May has hinted at policies to "build more houses, more quickly", while communities secretary Sajid Javid has said he will wipe housing associations' debt off the balance sheet.

Here's what else the chancellor is expected to unveil:

Read more: What you can expect from this week's Autumn Budget

Stamp duty rethink

With pressure ramping up on the government to give a helping hand to younger voters, this is a no-brainer. Abolishing stamp duty for first-time buyers will making it easier for them to climb the first rung on the housing ladder by combating "unreasonably high house prices", says Stuart Law, founder of Assetz Capital. However, the Adam Smith Institute has called for stamp duty to be scrapped altogether, which is less likely.

But landlords should watch out: it's thought the new rule will be financed by an increase in stamp duty for buy-to-let properties.

Green belt and planning rules

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a housebuilder in possession of a good fortune must be in want of more space to build on - thus, complaints about planning rules and the government hogging land are almost always at the top of housebuilders' Budget wishlists.

This time, though, it looks as though they may be about to get what they want: Hammond is said to be considering reclassifying parts of the green belt as part of a radical reform to planning rules. "This move would be attractive in that it would cost the chancellor nothing," said Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at the EY Item Club.

Read more: When, where and how to watch the 2017 Autumn Budget

The Chancellor Of The Exchequer On The Eve Of His First Autumn Statement
Will there be another Hammond photoshoot this time around? That's the real question. (Source: Getty)

Borrowing rules for councils

Under the Housing Revenue Account Borrowing cap, introduced to limit government debt, local councils are currently not allowed to borrow to build homes. But 21 London boroughs and the London Mayor have followed up calls from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) for local councils to be given the freedom to invest in new council housing.

In a letter today, Khan said: “We want to build more affordable homes, including new council housing - and Londoners are desperate for us to do so. But we urgently need government to play its part by giving the capital the resources, powers, and freedoms we need to underpin a step change in what we can do."

Help to Buy

The Prime Minister has already said the government will put another £10bn into the Help to Buy scheme, which provides first-time buyers with cash to buy a new-build home. Hammond is expected to shed more light on the government's plans.

Probably not: borrowing £50bn to build

Things were looking up for housebuilders in October when Javid suggested the government should take advantage of low interest rates by borrowing £50bn to build more homes. But that idea was quickly quashed by Hammond, who said: “It is not responsible to make so-called hard choices by loading the price on to the next generation and the generation after that." So don't expect that to receive a mention on Wednesday.

Read more: When, where and how to watch the 2017 Autumn Budget

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