Paresh Raja

Cancelling the 2019 Autumn Budget is another blow for the property market

Chancellor Sajid Javid was due to deliver the Autumn Budget on 6th November, just days after the UK was scheduled to leave the EU.

It now transpires that neither of these events will take place this year.

Instead, the Brexit deadline has been extended to 31st January 2020. And to make things more interesting, parliament has now backed Boris Johnson’s call for a general election on 12th December — an event the prime minister hopes will break the political deadlock surrounding Brexit.

It’s a big gamble for the prime minister, particularly if we look back to the 2017 general election when then prime minister Theresa May took a similar gambit, only for her party to lose its majority. Whatever the final outcome of this December election, Westminster must move forward and get on with Brexit to restore certainty.

A lost opportunity

The cancellation of the 2019 Autumn Budget as a result of the forthcoming general election is a significant blow for those involved in the property market. Nationwide’s latest house price index, for example, showed that annual house price growth remained below 1% for the 11th consecutive month in October. In this prolonged era of uncertainty, buyers and sellers are clearly being hesitant.

What’s more, there is a clear need for the government to review the issues people are facing when attempting to buy a property, be it through reforms to stamp duty or simply ensuring more people are able to buy affordable homes. The housing crisis is one of the most pressing challenges facing the property market, and while the government has touted reforms to planning laws and regulations, we are still waiting for these to be passed into law.

For this reason, a budget needs to be scheduled in the early months of 2020 to ensure that the country is provided with the guidance and leadership needed to plan for the future. Any further delays will mean the number of people struggling to buy a property will only increase. Yet, if there is one positive thing to take from the prolonged uncertainty caused by Brexit, it is the resilience of lenders in supporting the needs of homebuyers and property investors during this complicated time.

What we now need is leadership so that the challenges concerning the property market are addressed, be it supporting the needs of first-time buyers, protecting the interests of homeowners or committing to creative measures to address the housing crisis.

Let’s hope that after the general election and final Brexit deadline passes, the government can once again turn its attention to the domestic issues in dire need to attention — let’s hope we receive a budget sooner rather than later.

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