It is truly baffling that the Chancellor chose to ignore one of the most pressing issues facing the country today – the housing crisis – when he had the chance in the Spring Budget.
From a Mortgage Strategy viewpoint, we were gathered around the television, pens and notebooks poised for tennis elbow inducing note-taking as Hammond took to the stand. But as he wound up the hour-long speech, there was a collective sigh and we were left dejected.
The one and only mention of the housing crisis that passed the Chancellor’s lips was when he said: “If you talk to people from any background and any part of the country about their hopes and their aspirations for the future, you’ll hear a recurring concern for the next generation.” And he went on to ask: “Will they be able to get on the housing ladder?”
The announcement we were waiting for was finally coming, we foolishly thought, a boost to housing supply or a new first-time buyer scheme was surely imminent.
To acknowledge the doubt in young people’s minds that they may not ever own their own home and not at least attempt to alleviate that in some way is hard to fathom.
‘At least he left landlords alone this time’, some might say, although hopeless optimists were holding out for a revision of the mortgage interest relief cut coming in from April.
However, experts believe that the cut to the dividend allowance could have a knock on effect for rents, as combined with the cut to interest relief and the increase in stamp duty costs, landlords may well pass their additional expenses on to tenants.
And so it’s the same old story: those saving to buy a first home will be in even less of a position to do so as their rental costs are pushed up and the lack of supply continues to drive up property prices.
It’s a vicious circle that we’ve all had enough of. Hammond will have another spin of the wheel in the autumn so all we can hope for is a bit more joined-up thinking to give the UK housing market the boost it’s long been wishing for.