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Peer2Peer Finance News | December 17, 2017

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Budget: P2P lenders welcome £44bn housebuilding package and stamp duty cut

Budget: P2P lenders welcome £44bn housebuilding package and stamp duty cut
Suzie Neuwirth

PROPERTY-FOCUSED peer-to-peer lenders have welcomed the chancellor’s housing measures outlined in the Budget, which include £44bn of funding and the scrapping of stamp duty for most first-time buyers.

In Wednesday’s speech, Philip Hammond outlined “an ambitious plan to tackle the housing challenge” and meet the government’s target of building 300,000 additional homes a year by the mid-2020s.

His plan includes £44bn of capital funding loans and guarantees to be invested in skills, resources and land; a further £2.7bn for the housing infrastructure fund; £8bn of new financial guarantees to support private housebuilding and the purpose-built private rented sector; and an additional £34m to develop construction skills across the country.

The chancellor also promised there would be planning reforms and said he is establishing “an urgent review” to look at the gap between planning permissions and housing starts.

“The government is determined to fix the dysfunctional housing market, and restore the dream of home ownership for a new generation,” it said in the Budget document.

“The only sustainable way to make housing more affordable over the long term is to build more homes in the right places.”

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A previously hinted-at abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers was also confirmed, on properties worth up to £300,000. This will be available on the first £300,000 of the purchase price of properties worth up to £500,000.

This equates to a stamp duty cut for 95 per cent of all first-time buyers who pay stamp duty, the chancellor said.

Stuart Law, chief executive of secured property and business P2P lender Assetz Capital, said the announcements “represent a major positive development for housing in the UK”.

“In particular, the abolishment of stamp duty for first-time buyers on properties up to £300,000, and Homes England [formerly known as the Homes and Communities Agency] receiving greater support for house building and compulsory purchase order powers mark a defining moment.

“We know there won’t be a single solution to the housing crisis, but this sort of policy reform is desperately needed and is something that Conservative party members have been pressuring the government to implement.”

Read more: P2P sector urges chancellor to set bold housing agenda in Autumn Budget

Giles Cross, director at P2P secured business lender Folk2Folk, also welcomed the changes.

“Removing stamp duty for first time buyers is a positive and long-overdue move that will enable more young people and families to buy and live in their local and rural communities,” he said.

“This welcomed relief will help maintain socially and financially sustainable communities as more young people will now be able to purchase a home in their local area instead of moving to nearby cities to find work or housing.”

And John Goodall, chief executive and co-founder of buy-to-let specialist Landbay, said the Budget recognised the huge role that the private rented sector will play in the housing market going forward.

In particular, he heralded the government’s consultation on the barriers to landlords offering longer, more secure tenancies to those tenants who want them.

“The investigation into barriers around long term tenancies is a welcome one; choice for tenants is key, and both short- and long-term tenancies should be commonplace,” he said. “Whether tenants are renting as a stepping stone on the way to home ownership or, increasingly, renting for life, they rely on the buy-to-let market to ensure rental growth doesn’t dampen their purchasing power.

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“With the government pulling all manner of regulatory levers in recent years, further tax changes could have been the final straw to disincentivise landlords from engaging in the market.

“The headline grabber of stamp duty abolition for the vast majority of first time buyers will boost market activity but it won’t magic up millions of buyers; saving for a deposit will remain the biggest hurdle for many.”

A spokesperson from property P2P platform Lendy welcomed the government’s pledges but expressed caution, saying on Twitter: “£44bn sounds a lot but…the devil they say is what it means in real cash terms. We’ll have to wait for that. Thumbs up for stamp duty changes and ideas to build in high demand areas.”

In response to the review into the gap between planning permissions and housing starts, Liam Booke, co-founder of P2P property platform Lendy, added: “The biggest reason why new sites with planning permission don’t get built is a lack of funding.

“Banks have almost entirely withdrawn from the bridging finance market, and are increasingly pulling out of the development finance market too. P2P lending is enormously fast-growing in this area, but it hasn’t yet been able to fill the gap left by the banks.”