Spring Statement 2019 update
Published: 20 Mar 2019

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £3 billion Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme in the Spring Statement last week, as well as money for the Borderlands Growth Deal.

He listed the work the Government is doing to raise the level of housebuilding and deliver infrastructure, including the "largest" investment in roads and £37 billion National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF).

Although, all extra funding that could be provided for housing and other sectors, will depend on an "orderly" Brexit, where a deal with the EU has been agreed upon before the departure.

Affordable homes

Housing associations in England will be able to borrow £3 billion through the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme to support the delivery of 30,000 affordable homes.

Hammond stated £717 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), which totals £5.5 billion, will be used to create up to 37,000 homes at several sites, including at Old Oak Common in London, the Oxfordshire-Cambridge Arc and in Chesire.

The Oxfordshire-Cambridge Arc will also receive £445 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to help create more than 22,000 homes.

These measures all aim to help the Government with its commitment to build 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Hammond added that the Spring Statement builds on commitments in the 25-year environment plan; the Industrial Strategy and the Clean Growth Strategy to ensure that wildlife is not compromised when delivering infrastructure and housing. He said the Government will mandate net gains for biodiversity on new developments in England to deliver an overall increase in biodiversity.

Growth deals

The Chancellor said up to £260 million would go towards the Borderlands Growth Deal. The Scottish Government has announced that the Government would invest up to £85 million over 10 years into the Borderlands as part of the deal.

This is alongside the announcement that allocated £102 million for the Carlisle Southern Link Road from the HIF. The support of which follows the signing of an agreement at the beginning of March for an Ayrshire Growth Deal. The UK Government is to invest £103 million over the next 15 months. The Scottish Government would match this, with regional partners taking the total to more than £250 million.

Projects include:

  • £80 million investment "to position" Ayrshire as one of the UK's leading centres of aerospace;
  • £23 million to build Ayrshire's history of manufacturing;
  • £24 million to help harness the potential of local energy generation. £18 million will go towards the creation of a Centre for Research into low-carbon energy at the Hunterston industrial hub;
  • £14 million to improve the region's digital connectivity and infrastructure.

A ministerial statement published alongside the Spring Statement details that £60 million would be invested in 10 English cities from the Transforming Cities Fund. This will go to 30 schemes, including upgrades to bus stations, new cycle lanes and road improvements.

The cities that will receive funding includes:

  • Derby and Nottingham, £7.2 million;
  • Leicester, £7.8 million;
  • Portsmouth, £4 million;
  • Sheffield City Region, £4.2 million;
  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority, £2.2 million;
  • Southampton, £5.7 million;
  • North East Combined Authority, £10 million;
  • Norwich, £6.1 million;
  • Plymouth, £7.6 million;
  • Stoke-on-Trent, £5.6 million.

Hammond also noted that progress is being made on growth deals for Mid Wales and Derry/Londonderry.

Planning

The Chancellor's ministerial statement says the Government will, in the coming months, introduce a "package of reforms" that will allow greater change of use between premises and a new permitted development right that will see buildings extended upwards to create new homes.

A green paper will be published on how "greater capacity and capability, performance management and procedural improvements can accelerate the end-to-end planning process".

Reactions

The Spring Statement has received mixed reactions.

President of the RTPI Ian Tant noted there are some "useful measures" like the Affordable Homes Guarantee and the ending of fossil fuels heating homes by 2025, but "the state of finance in local authorities, especially local planning capacity, is a real worry and, sadly, there is nothing in the statement today to alleviate that".

Planner and MP Helen Hayes said the funding was "pitiful" whilst the National Housing Federation (NHF) has welcomed the £3 billion guarantee scheme, but put emphasis on the need to build more social housing.

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