Budget D-Day for Homes Market; Calls for a Budget to Save Homes Market

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), April 18, 2009 | Go to article overview

Budget D-Day for Homes Market; Calls for a Budget to Save Homes Market


Byline: Matt Thomas

AS the final round of budget submissions from the property industry arrive, Welsh insiders warn that more extreme measures may be needed to save the UK's housing market.

The submissions, which come from industry bodies including the Council for Mortgage Lenders and the Home Builders' Federation, are sent to the Chancellor ahead of next week's budget, advising him of the state of the industry and the steps that need to be taken over the next 12 months.

They include such proposals as: Abolish all stamp duty rates above the current pounds 250,000 threshold, making it a flat 1% tax; Boost affordable housing by starting new developments which will in turn create thousands of new jobs for the building industry; Reform shared equity schemes such as the Government's HomeBuy offer, to make things simpler for lenders and borrowers alike; Bail out homeowners threatened by negative equity; More Government aid to help builders meet reduced carbon targets.

Vikki Hiscocks, Policy Officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru said these measures will help people struggling to get on the property ladder and those in need of social housing but would not mean that other areas of the industry would suffer.

"Supporting the social housing industry does not have to be at the expensive of jobs and skills, quite the opposite in fact," she said.

"CIH has been pioneering the concept of housing-led regeneration, recognising the impact that investment in housing can bring, not just in delivering new homes, but in reviving local economies and creating sustainable communities.

"This is particularly pertinent in Wales.

CIH Cymru have estimated that pounds 500m will be spent in the social housing sector in Wales this year.

"The scope, scale and location of housing expenditure and investment in Wales is now such that it can play a much broader role in delivering economic recovery." This argument also holds true for the environmental aspects of the submissions, according to Ms Hiscocks.

"The house building industry has expressed concerns with the additional costs associated with higher environmental standards in new-build housing," she said.

"It is essential that the homes we are building today are future-proofed and if higher standards are mandatory the relevant supply chains and services will be developed in the UK and on a regional basis which arguably will help bring costs down across the board as well as creating job and training opportunities in the green sector. …

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