Industry Intel

February: Property industry news headline round-up

Tina Ledger

Graphic Designer

Jul 25, 2022

It has been a busy month in February and it looks like even busier months are to come, with budgets worth billions of pounds collectively being announced.

This includes a £93 million investment in road upgrade schemes, and £500 million to combat potholes all over the country.

Councils have received increased levels of funding to help combat the economic effects of COVID-19 and to help the most vulnerable during these times. Several counties in Oxford have also announced a ground-breaking new scheme to help homelessness.

The Government has announced further aid to help financially protect homeowners from the cost of cladding removal, and the review of business rates have been postponed until August. Excitingly, in a new chapter in the Government’s pledge to make Britain more eco-friendly, the first of many new homes with hydrogen boilers are set to be completed by April.

£93 Million Investment Announced for UK Roads

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, has announced three major road upgrade schemes with a budget of £93 million. Two of these will be funded as part of the major road network (MRN). It’s not yet been announced which funding stream this budget will come from.

£56 million of this money will be spent in the north on a “dramatic overhaul’ of the Kex Gill section of the A59 in North Yorkshire, with the aim of improving connectivity between Harrogate and Skipton. A new road will also divert traffic away from the landslip-prone Kex Gill part of the route.

Sandwell MBC will receive £23 million MRN money for a scheme to reduce congestion at Birchley Island, situated at the intersection of the M5, A4123, and A4034. Hampshire County Council will receive £13m MRN funding for upgrades to the Redbridge Causeway bridges over the River Test, which provide access for local businesses and hauliers to Southampton docks and link the city to the New Forest.

For more information click here.

UK First Homes with Hydrogen Boilers Built by April

The UK’s first homes to be fitted with boilers and hobs that run on hydrogen rather than fossil fuel gas will be built in Gateshead by April.

The government hopes to create entire “hydrogen neighbourhoods” and even a “hydrogen town” by the end of the decade as part of its plan to cut the carbon emissions from UK homes and become a net-zero carbon nation by 2050.

These houses in the north-east will use 100% hydrogen for heating and cooking in appliances including boilers, hobs, cookers and fires under a new government scheme intended to offer the public a glimpse into “the potential home of the future”.

Ministers are soon expected to set out a detailed strategy for the future uses of hydrogen, which could also be used to cut emissions from heavy industry and the transport sector.

For more information click here.

£500m Budget Announced to Fix 10m Potholes

The government is set to allocate £500m to councils from the £2.5bn Potholes Fund. This was originally announced as the 2020 budget, and is set to help fix the equivalent of 10 million potholes across the country.

The AA welcomed the funding, but remained pessimistic, saying that it would “not be enough to deliver the required improvements to the local road network.” They report that just 15% of their members reported residential roads in “good condition”, stating that in “order for roads to remain safe and smooth, they need completely resurfacing.”

For more information click here.

Multi-billion Pound Intervention Announced to End Unsafe Cladding

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced the government will pay for the removal of unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in high-rise buildings, providing reassurance and protecting them from costs.

These measures are designed to boost the housing market and free up homeowners to once again buy and sell their properties.

The Government has allocated £5 billion for building safety in total. This ensures that the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in residential buildings 18 metres (6 storeys) and over in England will be covered. Under the scheme, no leaseholder will ever pay more than £50 a month towards the removal of unsafe cladding.

This follows analysis of fire and rescue service statistics that show that buildings between 18-30 metres are “four times as likely to suffer a fire with fatalities or serious casualties than apartment buildings in general.”

Smaller buildings that have lower risk to safety will also be protected from costs with a new scheme targeting buildings between 11 and 18 metres. Home owners will be offered long-term, low-interest government-backed financing arrangement.

The Housing Secretary today announced plans to introduce a, ‘Gateway 2’ developer levy. The proposed levy will be targeted and apply when developers seek permission to develop certain high-rise buildings in England.

In addition, a new tax will be introduced for the UK residential property development sector. This will raise at least £2 billion over a decade to help pay for cladding remediation costs.

For more information click here.

Sanctuary and Southern Housing Group Announce Merge

The Sanctuary Group made a statement to the stock exchange that its board had agreed with the board of 30,000-home Southern Housing Group to “enter into due diligence and continuing dialogue in respect of a potential business combination”.

A full proposal of this merge will be announced in the summer. If this goes ahead it will create the UK’s largest residential landlord

Sanctuary has 13,500 staff and reported a turnover of £763m in the year to March 2020 from the management of 103,000 homes, producing a surplus of £57.4m. G15 landlord Southern Housing Group is based in London and employs 1,000 people, producing a surplus of £23m from the turnover of £237m. A successful merger will create a landlord managing more than 130,000 homes.

Last month the G15 group of leading London housing associations said its members planned to invest £3bn in fire safety repairs over the next ten years, spending which will impact upon their ability to deliver new homes without more generous subsidies.

Read more here.

£125 million to Support Domestic Abuse Victims and Their Children

The funding will help ensure victims and their children who need it are able to access life-saving support such as therapy, advocacy and counselling in safe accommodation, including refuges.

The money will fund a new duty on councils to ensure victims and their children are able to access life-saving support in safe accommodation – a key part of the government’s landmark Domestic Abuse Bill. The duty will come into effect later this year, subject to the Domestic Abuse Bill becoming law.

This is part of a wider package of support for victims of rape and domestic abuse, with a £40 million funding boost for victim support services announced last week.

The government has taken action to help the most vulnerable in society during the pandemic, with an unprecedented £76 million pledged in May to ensure vital services including refuges, helplines and counselling remain accessible.

Read more here.

£51 Billion Funding Package Announced for Local Councils

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed that councils across England will have access to £51.3 billion next year. This represents a £2.3 billion increase this year – including access to an extra £1 billion for social care to help support vulnerable adults and children.

Final allocations for the £670 million fund to enable councils to continue reducing council tax bills for those least able to pay have also been confirmed today, helping households impacted financially by the pandemic. This is over and above the usual council tax support available for councils each year.

In addition, Mr Jenrick has extended the scheme that compensates councils for income lost during the pandemic from services including car parks, leisure facilities, and museums, until June 2021.

This follows £1.55 billion of un-ringfenced funding which was announced in November to help councils continue to support their communities during the pandemic.

This means a further £3 billion of additional support for councils to deal with the pandemic in 2021-22 has been confirmed, taking the total overall amount of pandemic support to over £11 billion.

Read more here.

A Housing-Led Response to Homelessness To Be Developed

This response will be developed with a partnership agreement signed by Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council, Cherwell District Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council.

Housing-led means getting people who are homeless into their own homes as quickly as possible and giving them the support they need to make maintaining a tenancy work. It aims to minimise both the time people spend in temporary accommodation and the number of moves they have to make before getting their permanent home.

A housing-led approach has had significant success in reducing homelessness internationally, with Finland, in particular, leading the way in tackling homelessness. In the UK this is the first time it has been adopted by a county council.

Read more here.

Caps on Public Sector Exit Payments To Be Removed

A limit of £95,000 on payments to council staff leaving their jobs came into force in November, in the face of fierce opposition from unions. The Government has since announced that this had ‘unintended consequences’.

The High Court was due to hear a joint legal challenge by Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) and the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives (ALACE) and a second case brought by Unison next month.

Partner at Greenburgh and Company, Mark Greenburgh, who was due to represent ALACE and LLG, said: ‘We are pleased that the Government has seen sense.’

While he said it was, as yet, unclear what this would mean for the litigation, Mr Greenburgh added: ‘We await the proposals to include costs for our clients.’

Read more here.

Review of Business Rates Put Back to Autumn

The Government said the report would be delayed until there was greater ‘economic certainty’ and more clarity on the long-term state of public finances.

The chancellor is expected to extend the business rates holiday for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors for another year in next month’s Budget. It has also been reported he will extend the furlough scheme and the £20 uplift to Universal Credit.

An interim report is expected to be published on 23rd March.

Read more here.

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Graphic Designer

Tina Ledger

Being such a people person makes Tina exceptionally good at her job. She not only can relate to most people in one way or another, but she also genuinely enjoys hearing about other people’s experiences. Couple that with her creativity, resilience and ability to flourish under pressure, and you’ve got yourself a cracking Graphic Designer.

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