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What we learnt from the Spending Review

Posted on 2015-12-09

Property was a key component of the Spending Review delivered by George Osborne in his Autumn Statement.

In among talk of tax credits U-turns and a growing economy, property took centre stage with various announcements that look set to have an impact on the industry.

The Government's proposals for a major housebuilding programme – to address the issues of the current housing supply crisis – were one of the key property-related measures the Chancellor spoke about. In particular, the Government has committed to building 400,000 affordable homes by 2020.

These will include the 200,000 Starter Homes announced by the Government before the general election, as well as 135,000 Help to Buy: Shared Ownership homes.

Some £2 billion will be handed to property developers to fund the Starter Homes scheme, with homes built specifically for first-time buyers aged under 40. Buyers signed up to the initiative will receive a discount of up to 20% against current market rates.

Meanwhile, £4 billion will be ploughed into the Help to Buy: Shared Ownership scheme, which aims to allow people to purchase a share in their home and then steadily buy more shares over time, as and when they can afford to do so. Those earning less than £80,000 outside London and £90,000 in the capital will be eligible for the scheme.

In addition to this, there will also be a Help to Buy scheme aimed specifically at Londoners. It will allow first-time buyers the chance to bag an interest-free loan of up to 40% of the value of a new home in exchange for just a 5% deposit.

The Government's 400,000 target also includes 10,000 new homes where tenants can save for a deposit while they rent. First option to buy the property will go to these tenants, who will be able to pay sub-market rents for up to five years.

There are also plans to build 8,000 specialist homes (for the elderly and those with disabilities), while 50,000 affordable properties will be sourced from 'existing commitments'.

Elsewhere, the Autumn Statement provided somewhat of a blow to buy-to-let investors with the news that they will be charged a further 3% in stamp duty on the purchase of a buy-to-let property from April next year.

This comes on top of the changes to buy-to-let mortgages announced in July's Budget, which means investors will start to face cuts to the amount of tax relief they can claim from April 2016.

However, these costs (and other associated costs, like buying agency fees) can be off-set against future Capital Gains Tax and, in the event of losses, can be carried forward indefinitely.

This means that if a landlord decides to sell a property bought after April 2016, they will have to pay the additional tax at the time of purchase. However, the stamp duty can be claimed back against Capital Gains Tax when the property is sold.

Osborne insists the new measures will raise approximately £1 billion by 2021. The money raised will be used to fund new-build homes and extend Right to Buy to housing association tenants.

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