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Positive Budget for Housing
22 March 2013

Housing measures were a prominent part of the Budget on Wednesday. Measures included;

Commercial to residential use
– The Government is going to examine whether amendments to Investment Regulated Pensions Scheme can be used to encourage the conversion of unused commercial space into residential property.

Help to Buy – A mortgage guarantee scheme to increase the availability of mortgages to consumers who can only raise the funds for small deposits.

Help to Buy (equity loan) – From April 1st 2013 Help to Buy (equity loan) will be open to all who aspire to own a new build home: -

- Provide an equity loan worth up to 20% of the value of the new build home, repayable once the home is sold.

- Significantly widen the eligibility criteria for shared equity to ensure as many people as possible are able to benefit. The maximum home value will be £600,000 and there will be no income cap restraint.

- Ensure that the scheme is open not only to first time buyers but also to those moving up the housing ladder. Government looking into ways to stop the measure being used for second home purchases.

Social Rent – 2015-16 spending round the Government will set out a social rental policy that will give certainty to landlords until 2025.

Pay to Stay – Landlords will be able to charge market rents to social tenants with a combined income of more than £60,000 a year. All additional income must be reinvested in housing.

Right to Buy – From the 25th March in London the discount cap will be raised to £100,000 from £75,000.

Right to Buy – The entire process will be simplified for both LA’s and tenants.

Right to Buy – Tenants will only have to wait 3 years before they're eligible, it used to be 5 years.

Build to Rent – The Build for Rent fund will be expanded from £200 million originally announced to £1 billion.

Zero Carbon Homes – "The Government is committed to implementing 'zero carbon homes' from 2016. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will publish a detailed plan, setting out its response to the 2012 consultation on the energy efficiency requirements in building regulations, by May 2013. The Government will then consult on next steps, including on the means of delivering allowable solutions, by Summer Recess."

Extension to affordable homes guarantee programme – The existing affordable homes guarantee will be doubled, providing a further £225 million to support the building of 15,000 new affordable homes.

Public Land Disposals – DCLG have invited bids from eligible public land holders for the £290 million worth of funding, allocated to accelerate surplus public land disposals at Autumn Statement 2012. In addition, around 30 sites will transfer to the HCA, who will dispose of them quickly.

SDLT Rates – As announced in Dec 2012 the Government will introduce further reliefs to the 15% rate of SDLT which applies to residential properties valued at over £2 million purchased by certain non-natural persons.

REITs – The Government will legislate to allow a UK REIT to treat income from another UK REIT as income of its tax exempt property rental business. The Government is further considering the case for REITs bring included in the definition of "institutional investor".

Judicial Review – The Ministry of Justice has consulted on shortening time limits for bringing a planning judicial review and will set out its plans in spring 2013.

Planning Use Class – The Government will consult on further flexibilities between use classes to support change of use from certain agricultural and retail uses to residential use to increase responsiveness within the planning system.

Planning Guidance – Looking to Lord Matthew Taylor’s recommendations the Government will review planning guidance, with greater focus on market signals to ensure land is allocated where it needs to go.

Land Auctions Feasibility Study – DCLG is continuing with the public sector land auctions model and will work with HM Treasury to conduct a feasibility study into wider use of the model.

Business Bank – Launch a £300 million investment scheme to help diversify and expand the supply of lending to SMEs and mid-sized businesses. Provide an additional £50 million for the Business Angel Co-Investment fund. Finally publish the banks first strategy; this will set out an accelerated timetable as to how the bank will direct its £1 billion of new capital to improve existing access to finance for SMEs and develop by 2014 a lasting institution that will diversify the UK finance markets so that they serve SMEs.

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