In the build-up to last week’s Spring Statement, many predicted a ‘boring budget’ and Philip Hammond didn’t disappoint in this regard.
At a time when internal party conflict continues to simmer and the Brexit negotiations bumble on, the chancellor would have wanted to remain cool, calm and collected in order to steady the ship.
Beyond the usual self-congratulation, there was very little in way of fresh housing policy announcements, just re-announcements or further additions. This would have been a disappointment to much of the industry, especially after the progress made in the preceding weeks with the publication of the draft NPPF and the added boost to build-to-rent in the Planning Practice Guidance, which will attract new players into the sector.
The additional £1.7bn to deliver affordable homes in London is of course welcome and the West Midlands housing deal, delivered through a £100m grant from the Land Remediation Fund, shows a continued commitment by this government to devolution and supporting the thriving regional economies and their increasing productivity.
Yet the industry is still waiting to see many of the promises laid out in the housing white paper brought to fruition. Some of this stasis may be due to the lack of ministerial contingency within government; much of it will be due to the scale and task of addressing a colossal issue such as the UK’s housing market.
The government seems as if it is listening to the sector, but tangible change is sluggish. Spring may be around the corner, but for much of the industry, we still feel left in the cold and without ammunition.