P2P sector urges chancellor to set bold housing agenda in Autumn Budget
THE PEER-TO-PEER lending sector has called on the chancellor to introduce a more ambitious housing programme in this month’s Budget.
There have been several rumours about the content of Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Budget, set for 22 November 2017, including the scrapping of stamp duty for first-time buyers.
Supporters of the policy claim it could help to bridge the UK’s generational divide, but P2P lenders think a more transformative housing policy is required.
Michael Lynn, chief executive of Relendex, has written to housing minister Alok Sharma urging him to facilitate the use of P2P lending in tackling the country’s housing crisis.
Lynn said the only way the government will be able to meet suggested targets of 300,000 new homes a year is if it enables the funding of independent housebuilders.
He suggested this could be achieved by introducing an approved housebuilder funding certification.
“This would help to legitimise the use of secured lending for housing developments or conversions,” he explained.
Lynn suggested the impact would be even greater if the government allowed residential property investments to be held in a self-invested personal pension wrapper.
There have also been calls for a national housing bond which could enable the construction of affordable housing and offer attractive returns to investors.
But Landbay chief executive and co-founder John Goodall said the launch of a bond seems unlikely in the short term.
“From my perspective, I’d welcome a Budget which doesn’t introduce further tax changes for landlords,” he stated.
“Whatever the fix to the UK’s housing market, the private rented sector will have an important role to play and it’s vital the sector remains attractive enough to them. Otherwise, the quality and volume of rental accommodation will fall, and that would be to no one’s advantage.”
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Meanwhile, Paul Riddell, head of marketing and communications at Lendy, warned the focus on the housing crisis could be lost if housing slips down the Budget agenda.
“After decades of missing housebuilding targets, Lendy would encourage the chancellor to be more ambitious with the government’s new housing programme,” he said.
Lendy is also calling for greater support for the fintech industry. Riddell said robots, artificial intelligence and driverless cars are attracting a lot of attention, with over £270m going into their research and development over the past year, whereas more financially-focused technology was largely overlooked in the last Budget.
“Yet Britain is world-beating in this respect. We must continue to invest in innovation to help maintain the UK, and in particular London, as the fintech capital of the world,” he said.
Brian Bartaby, chief executive and founder of Proplend, added he would be looking out for proposals that remove the “flaw” in the Innovative Finance ISA preventing people investing across multiple P2P platforms in the same tax year.