It was always going to be a difficult Budget to deliver – optimism that we are finally getting over the pandemic and the punitive measures taken, but levelling up comes at a cost of tax rises – something the Chancellor made clear he wasn’t comfortable with. Whilst the vast majority of the Budget was pre briefed, it was the narrative of tax rises now to pay for the past that most caught our eye.
That said, be under no illusion, this was a blueprint for the next General Election, and rumours continue to swirl that we could be looking at a 2023 general election, a year earlier than originally planned. The blueprint is best exemplified through the announcement that, over the lifetime of this Parliament, spending by department will have increased by £150 billion. The biggest increase this century with spending growing by 3.8%.
For the development sector it was pretty slim pickings. Hardly anything was ‘new’, or indeed new money, with the exception of further business rates reform. Something this Chancellor has vowed to change.
- £65 million to help digitise planning departments in local authorities. This issue of planning departments not having the resources available to see through the sheer volume of applications was laid bare during the pandemic, and this will certainly help.
- Levelling up – Regions across England to receive £6.9 billion for large infrastructure projects, £1.5 billion of that is new monies with the rest of the money made up from the budget announcement in 2019. The eagle eyed amongst you will not have failed to notice the trolling on Twitter by the Chancellor to the Shadow Health Secretary over his announcement to reform Leicester’s train station – his constituency.
- £9 billion contribution to up to 100 ‘pocket parks’ in urban areas.
- £11.5 billion for 180,000 new affordable homes, £5 billion to remove cladding, via a new developers tax for those companies with profits over £25 million.
- £300 million of grant funding for metro mayors to help unlock small brownfield sites.
- This will help, he hopes, to unlock the development of up to 1 million homes.
- For High Streets and business rates new valuation cycle from 2023.
- Business rates cut of 50% for the hospitality and leisure sector, including hotels, for 12 months.
- The rise in the minimum wage will be welcomed, as will reforms to Universal Credit.
Predictably, there has been a mixed reaction from the industry but on balance we can say it has been cautiously welcomed – the allocation of extra funds for brownfield sites is welcomed, as has business rate reform. Helping to further digitise planning has been heaven sent according to one planning consultants we spoke to.
From midnight last night we had, in theory, cheaper booze and our wish is for you to enjoy this small perk over the weekend.