THE UK’s largest property buyers association says the next Government should reduce stamp duty, enhance tax relief for “green” landlords and embark on a campaign to turbo-charge house construction.
The three demands form part of a five-point plan outlined by the National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB) – which they say should be rolled out in the first 100 days by whoever wins the keys to Number 10.
The intervention by the NAPB – whose members purchase around £1.5bn of property annually – comes amid growing concern about falling house prices across the UK.
And Jonathan Rolande, from the NAPB, said without a clear roadmap prices could “fall every month in 2024”.
The recommendations come days after Labour pledged to turbo-charge housebuilding if they win at the next Election.
Outlining the five steps they think should be taken by the next Government, the NAPB said:
Reduce Stamp Duty for downsizers – full-rate Stamp Duty should be suspended for so-called “last time movers” to increase the market availability of larger, family-sized homes. The offer need only be limited for a 12-month period only, as stock levels are beginning to increase due to the current chill in the property market. There have been calls previously for a “one move free” scheme for the over-65s, mirroring the scheme for first-time buyers for homes valued at up to £425,000 in England and Wales.
Make clear a ten-year plan for property – setting targets for house building is all well and good, but who is actually going to build them? The construction industry is beset with skills shortages – an existing situation which has been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. A major campaign is needed to persuade school-leavers and graduates that careers in construction really are interesting, rewarding and well-paid, whether it is an architect, structural engineer, surveyor or bricklayer. Such campaigns are usually the preserve of the Construction Industry Training Board, but the huge shortage of housing, especially social housing, would seem to call for a national, sustained, Government-sponsored campaign, in line with Sir Keir Starmer’s plan for a national programme of renewal. It is children aged 12 now who will be building homes in ten years’ time. The time to start is now.
Do not rely on the private sector – house-builders will only build for profit and have a vested interest in constraining supply to keep prices high. Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has accused the housebuilding industry of acting like a cartel. If the sales market is flat, the number of new homes being built falls drastically. The Government has undershot its own targets for years and some 1.1 million homes have been granted planning permission in the last decade but have never been built. Central and local government administrations need to be empowered to begin building on their own land with a view to renting homes to local residents. New affordable homes are desperately needed and this is one way to kickstart a reversal of decades of underinvestment.
Enhance tax relief for landlords who insulate their tenant’s home – the cost of living crisis has brought energy-saving measures into the spotlight and insulating homes is key to ensuring that energy is used efficiently. It is a key demand of pressure groups opposed to the use of fossil fuels – but landlords need an incentive to do it. Offering 120% tax relief for a two-year period for loft and wall insulation and on items such as heat pumps would reduce emissions and save enormous sums for hard-pressed tenants, who could see a 20-25% reduction in the energy they use for heating.
Increased council tax on second homes – local unease over second homes where owners leave them empty for much of the year has hit the headlines and is a growing issue that needs tackling. Second homes have been blamed for driving down the affordability of housing for local residents in high-demand areas where second homes are often used as holiday accommodation. The same should apply to empty homes that are not on the market for sale or rent. The Government’s proposed levelling up legislation, which is currently passing through Parliament includes a proposal to double council tax on second homes but it remains to be seen whether that will survive at the end of the process. There are also question-marks over whether that is enough or if the measure needs to be applied more broadly.
Jonathan Rolande, from the NAPB, says:
“Whoever wins the race to be the next Prime Minister will have to deal with a housing crisis. At present the prospect of ever owning a home is a complete fantasy for millions of young people.
“And rising numbers are now unable to even rent a property due to the soaring cost in many towns and cities.
“The next Government needs to make addressing this crisis an immediate priority and set out a clear roadmap in their first 100 days as to how they will tackle the situation.
“There are many tools at their disposal and the NAPB has today outlined five measures we’d like to see introduced.
“Given the current direction of the housing market it is possible we could see prices fall every month next year – which would be a crushing blow to millions of homeowners.
“Proactive and positive steps by whoever gets the keys to Number 10 can reverse that trend.”
Elliot Vure from property lender Together says:
“It’s shocking how successive Governments of all colours have failed to fix a housing crisis which has dragged on for years and we need a new Prime Minister, of whichever party, to deal with this housing emergency as an urgent priority.
“What is needed is a long-term strategy and we welcome the NAPB’s five-point plan as a wholly sensible starting point.
“Reducing stamp duty for ‘last time movers’, rewarding landlords for improving the energy efficiency of their properties and boosting construction will be key to stimulating the property market in the first 100 days of a new PM’s tenure.
“Equipping school-leavers with the construction skills we need to meet demand for new housing is also crucial to setting the firm foundations of the property market in the future.
“We also need an emphasis on more support for entrepreneurial developers looking to create homes through modular housing, and reform of what can be painfully drawn-out planning processes, to meet the ambitions of developers, investors and home-owners in the future.”