November: Property & housing industry news headline round-up

property industry and housing sector monthly news round-up

It has been a busy month within the Property & Housing sector in the lead-up to Christmas. Various large funding projects have been announced such as a £4bn fund for new affordable homes, a £12bn fund for green energy, and a £4bn ‘levelling up’ fund announced by Rishi Sunak. 

In the housing market homeowners have been freed up to sell with the withdrawal of the requirement of the EWS1 form, and the New Help to Buy: Equity Loan Scheme has started doing business enabling many first-time buyers to get on the property ladder. 

This has all happened under the spectre of a prospective shrinking UK economy, as the long-lasting effects of the COVID 19 crisis become more apparent. The council house waiting list is now at two million people, and charities predict that 2021 will see large numbers of evictions. A new £170m COVID Winter Grant Scheme has been announced to help local councils stop children going hungry during the second wave of the pandemic. 

Sadiq Khan Announces £4bn Affordable Homes Programme

The London mayor has announced his plans for a new generation of social housing across the capital. The affordable home programme (AHP) will help build thousands of new social housing homes between 2021 and 2026.

This will result in the delivery of 82,000 new homes from April 2021. Housing providers wishing to bid for funds from the new AHP will have to meet a series of conditions on building safety and design.

These include the installation of sprinklers or other fire suppression systems in new blocks of flats and a ban on combustible materials being used in external walls for all residential development, regardless of height.

Firms will also be required to meet minimum floor-to-ceiling heights and a requirement for private outdoor space, as well as a ‘sunlight clause’ requiring all homes with three or more bedrooms to be dual aspect.

See this link for more information.

Property & housing news

Prime Minister Announces £12bn Fund For 250,000 New Green British Jobs

The Prime Minister’s ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ is set to create jobs in clean energy, transport, nature, and innovative technologies, to help the UK eradicate its contribution to climate change by 2050.

The plan will use £12 billion of government investment, and will be built around ten points:

1. Offshore wind: Producing enough energy from offshore wind to power every home in Britain, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.

2. Hydrogen: Creating 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030.

3. Nuclear: Developing nuclear as a clean energy source, supporting 10,000 jobs.

4. Electric vehicles: Backing car manufacturing bases in the West Midlands, North East, and North Wales to accelerate the production of electric vehicles.

5. Public transport, cycling, and walking: Promoting cycling and walking as travel methods

6. Jet Zero and greener maritime: Research projects for zero-emission planes and ships

7. Homes and public buildings: Making homes, schools and hospitals more energy efficient, creating 50,000 jobs by 2030 and installing 600,000 heat pumps by 2028.

8. Carbon capture: Developing technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere.

9. Nature: Planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year.

10. Innovation and finance: Developing the technologies needed to reach these new energy ambitions.

See this link for more information.

Property & housing news

Housing Associations, Banks, And Investors Collaborate On First Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing

More than 35 HAs and 27 banks and investors have become early adopters of the standard in a move that they hope will help the sector unlock billions of pounds of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment from both new and existing sources.

The standard includes 48 criteria across 12 core themes: affordability and security; building safety and quality; resident voice; resident support; placemaking; climate change; ecology; resource management; structure and governance; board and trustees; staff well-being; and supply chain management.

The hope is that the voluntary standard will provide consistency across the sector in terms of ESG reporting, thereby attracting greater investment in the sector from new sources of finance, such as ethical investment funds.

See this link for more information.

Property & housing news

£40m Pounds of Additional Green Funding Announced

The £40m Green Recovery Challenge aims to create up to 3,000 jobs and safeguard up to 2,000 others in areas such as protecting species, finding nature-based solutions to tackling climate change, conservation rangers and connecting people with nature.

The fund was launched in September, and on Saturday 14th of November, the Government announced a further £40m would be made available to it.

See this link for more information.

Additional green funding has been announced

New £170m COVID Winter Grant Scheme Announced

This money will be distributed to councils to stop children going hungry during the second wave of the pandemic – with at least 80% of it being used to help families pay for bills and provide food for children over the holidays.

The Government has also confirmed the Holiday Activities and Food programme will be expanded across England next year, while Healthy Start scheme payments will increase from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from next April.

See this link for more information.

Property & housing news

The Road Safety Trust offers up to £200,000 to Support Innovative Road Safety Technology

Local authorities are now able to apply for grants to fund projects that explore how technology can reduce road offending and improve road safety.

The Road Safety Trust, a road safety charity, will open its Main Theme Programme to applications on 25th February. 

Grants are available for up to two or three years depending on the programme and can range from £10,000 up to £200,000. Since it was established in 2014, the Road Safety Trust has awarded grants worth £3.7m to 49 different projects.

See this link for more information.

Homeowners in Buildings Without Cladding Will No Longer Need an Ews1 Fire Safety Form to Sell or Re-mortgage

First introduced by RICS in December 2019, the forms were originally intended to provide mortgage lenders with an assessment of the fire safety of external walls in buildings above 18m in height. However, as the government has become tougher on combustible cladding, mortgage lenders have asked for the forms on a much wider range of buildings, even those without cladding.

The form has seen hundreds of thousands of homeowners across the UK unable to sell or re-mortgage their homes, which has been made worse by a major shortage of fire safety professionals qualified to sign the forms. To combat this, the government has announced £700,000 in funding to train more safety assessors to carry out the inspections from January. This funding will mean that within six months, 2,000 assessors will be qualified to sign the forms.

See this link for more information. 

Property & housing news

The New Help to Buy: Equity Loan Scheme is Now Open for Business

Homes England has announced that first-time buyers interested in new-build homes can apply from Wednesday 16 December 2020.

With a Help to Buy: Equity Loan, the government lends homebuyers up to 20% (40% in London) of the cost of a newly built home. Customers pay a deposit of 5% or more and arrange a mortgage of 25% or more to make up the rest. The equity loan is interest-free for the first five years.

Homebuilders are getting into a contract for the new scheme and starting to market their new build homes. Eligible first-time buyers will be able to reserve their homes from mid-December and get the keys to move in from 1 April 2021.

See this link for more information.

COVID-19 Crisis Set to Increase Council House Waiting List

The waiting list for council housing in England will almost double to two million people next year, amid figures suggesting that hundreds of thousands are already facing the threat of eviction as a result of the Covid-19 fallout.

There is evidence that renters on low incomes are using up their limited savings, cutting back on essentials and borrowing money to stay afloat. A new analysis warns that the waiting list for council houses in England will exceed its peak following the 2008 financial crisis as more and more people are unable to afford their homes.

Around 2.5m households across the UK are worried about paying their rent over the winter, and 700,000 are already in arrears, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). It found 350,000 households have been served an eviction notice or spoken to about eviction by their landlord.

See this link for more information.

Property & housing news

Chancellor Rishi Sunak Unveils £4bn Levelling Up Fund

The fund will see councils bid for up to £20m each to fund roads, railway stations, museums and art galleries. It comes in addition to the £100bn green recovery fund and a refresh of the Green book to shift the bias away from investment in the South East.

The Chancellor allocated £55bn next year to help the COVID crisis, including £2.6bn to the devolved nations. There was a £6.3bn cash increase in NHS spending in 2021-22 compared with 2020-21, and £2.2bn for schools. Mr Sunak confirmed the government would continue to fund holiday school meals through to Christmas 2021.

The chancellor announced an increase in the National Living Wage and he has frozen the business rates multiplier in 2021-22.

According to OBR forecasts, the economy will contract by 11.3% this year, the largest drop in output for more than 300 years. Despite a rapid recovery the 2025 economy is still expected to be around 3% smaller than expected.

See this link for more information.

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