In a wide-ranging speech, Hunt re-committed the Government to its flagship levelling-up programme, confirming plans for Round 2 of the £1.7 billion levelling-up programme and more money for the devolved administrations. They will receive £3.4 billion over the next two years (with £1.5 billion for Scotland, £1.2 billion for Wales and £650 million for Northern Ireland.)
There will also be a new energy efficiency task force to reduce UK energy demand by 15% by 2030, as well as new mayors for Suffolk, Norfolk, Cornwall, and the North East of England.
Hunt also said the energy price guarantee would be extended, with unit prices capped, so average bills are no more than £3,000.
The Chancellor also set out plans for the National Living Wage to rise next year, rent increases in the social sector to be capped at 7%, and for benefits and pensions to rise in line with inflation rather than wages.
On a gloomier note, the OBR said that house prices could fall by 9% over the next two years, confirmed that Britain is in a recession (and will remain so for some time) and that government debt interest spending is up to the highest level since just after the second world war.
There was little about housing in Hunt’s speech, aside from the stamp duty and capital gains mentions, but the lettings sector will no doubt be irritated at yet another tax hike. And some may feel Hunt missed out on the opportunity to offer more of a carrot to the private rented sector, which plays an increasingly important role in housing a large population of the country.