Philip Hammond

Specialist finance industry reacts to Autumn Budget 2018




Philip Hammond’s second Autumn Budget has provoked a strong reaction from across the specialist finance industry.

The chancellor of the exchequer announced a £675m fund to be spent on local high streets as well as cutting the business rates bill by a third.

He also outlined an additional £500m for the housing infrastructure fund, while stamp duty has been abolished for first-time buyers on shared ownership purchases up to £500,000.

Impact on the property market

Paresh Raja, CEO at Market Financial Solutions, said it was unfortunate that there were no new reforms to creatively increase the amount of private investment into derelict homes that could be renovated and put back on the market.

“The country boasts some of the world’s most desirable real estate, which is why we should be encouraging both domestic and foreign investment into the property market. 

“It is also questionable whether the government will be able to deliver on its new-build targets given its past track record.”

Jonathan Sealey, CEO at Hope Capital, said: “The additional money for housing and infrastructure will be welcome if it is joined up and the new infrastructure is in the same place as the new homes.”

Mark Dyason, managing director at Thistle Finance, said the right noises were emerging from the UK government.

“There’s no doubt that office-to-residential conversions have had a positive impact on the number of new homes being built, so any simplification of this process is to be welcomed.

“Empty commercial deadwood is helping to regenerate local neighbourhoods around the UK and it’s a trend that needs to continue.”

Stuart Law, CEO at Assetz Capital, added: “This was a Budget for housebuilders and homebuyers.

“While we didn’t see a significant strategic shift from the government in this area, there were a number of tactical announcements which should at least result in a material improvement to the current situation.”

Changes to stamp duty

Benson Hersch, CEO at the Association of Short Term Lenders, welcomed the changes to SDLT.

“Abolition of SDLT for part-owned residences valued at £500,000 or less for FTBs in addition to other FTB purchases will help.  

“There are proposals to assist SME builders, which are welcomed.  

“All in all, a budget statement which does not set the world alight, but which does show confidence in the future of the UK.”

Kevin Roberts, director at Legal & General Mortgage Club, added: “This extension to shared ownership properties of up to £500,000 is very welcome news for buyers up and down the country – even better to hear that it will be applied retrospectively for homeowners since the last Budget.

“The government clearly recognises the benefits of shared ownership as a genuine option for individuals, couples and families who want to become homeowners.

“Hopefully, this exemption will now bring about even more awareness of the scheme and make it as widely recognised as other high-profile tenures such as Help to Buy.” 

Support for SMEs

The chancellor announced a cut in business rates by one third for all retailers in England with a rateable value of £51,000 or less, while also announcing the launch of a £675m future high streets fund.

This was welcomed by Simon Brooks, co-head of origination at Investec SPF, who said: “Anything the government can do to demonstrate that they are supportive of reinvigorating the physical retail sector in the UK and the huge number of jobs it supports should be applauded and this significant cut to business rates sends out a positive message.” 

However, Ibrahim Dogus, small business campaigner and founder of SME4Labour, said it was welcomed news, but questioned where the funding was coming from.

“We need the government to find and implement long-term solutions, not just soundbites.

“If it is serious about tackling the challenges faced by small businesses, then it needs to help encourage people to spend money locally."

Angus Dent, CEO at ArchOver, felt the reduction of business rates was music to the ears of UK SMEs.

“A definitive step forward like reducing business rates is long overdue – particularly for small retailers struggling on the British high street.

“But this isn’t enough to cure a decade of difficulty for UK SMEs.”

Chirag Shah, CEO at Nucleus Commercial Finance, said it was essential that SME owners knew that the government supported the contribution they made to the economy.

“Plans to ensure the continued availability of funding in a post-Brexit world will help to ease uncertainties, and those businesses keeping our high streets alive will benefit from the rate cut which eases their tax burden.”

 

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