Speaking ahead of Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget announcement, Paul Sams, Partner and Head of Property for Dutton Gregory Solicitors, said:
“We very much doubt this will be a Spring Budget to remember, but hopefully it’s not one full of missed opportunities. There are three simple initiatives that could have a transformative impact on the UK’s property sector, with every new transaction pumping circa £10,000 into the wider economy.
“As Help to Buy was self-funding, it should be reintroduced. The tightening of the original Help to Buy criteria – which was open to first timer buyers, as well as existing homeowners until two years ago – was a sensible change. The scrapping of Help to Buy entirely has made no sense. First time buyers are now scarcer than we have ever seen, so there is a danger of a generation of young people being denied accessible homebuying opportunities. Prior to a decade of Help to Buy, there was Home Buy Direct and First Buy, so how is it right that there is no longer a government initiative to make home ownership a possibility for those without a substantial deposit?
“If we want to see the UK’s homes become far more energy efficient, landlords need to be incentivised to make the investment into retrofitting eco-friendly technologies into their buy to let properties. There are some grants available, but the uptake is very low because of the complexity and red tape. A largescale residential property upgrade scheme could be rolled out, mirroring the simplicity of the 2020 furlough system. By seizing the opportunity to see millions of homes upgraded to an EPC-C performance, the Chancellor could deliver a very welcome shot in the arm to the property, construction, and manufacturing sectors, while also reducing the energy bills and carbon footprint of renters.
“The climate of demonising buy to let landlords should also end. Modernising and upgrading buy to let properties has been far more scarce in the three years since landlords stopped receiving interest tax relief on their mortgage expenses. This is not beneficial to the wider economy.
“Our property conveyancing team has just received the highest number of weekly new instructions of the year. This number even exceeds March 2022, when the housing market appeared to be more buoyant. The media hype about a property downturn has now been proven to have been blown out of proportion. Now is the time for the Chancellor to reintroduce some much-needed levelling up and help vying first time buyers in the way that nearly 300,000 before them were given assistance to become homeowners.”
Hampshire-headquartered Dutton Gregory Solicitors is a full-service legal firm for private and corporate clients. The multi-award-winning practice has offices in Bournemouth, Chandler’s Ford, Poole, London, and Winchester, with a new office launching in Liverpool.