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Autumn Statement promises funds to boost housebuilding

Published: Thursday, 24th November 2016

Government announces an array of new funding packages to increase housebuilding in areas where housing need is greatest…

The government has this week used the Autumn Statement to announce a package of new funding to boost housebuilding and the provision of affordable housing, which minsters claimed would deliver over 140,000 new homes.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond stressed that the government’s Housing White Paper would be published “in due course”.

A new Housing Infrastructure Fund, worth £2.3bn by 2020-21, will be allocated on a competitive basis to local authorities to provide infrastructure targeted at unlocking new private house building in the areas where housing need is greatest. That initiative is expected to deliver up to 100,000 new homes. The government will also examine options to ensure transport funding better supports housing growth.

The government also committed an extra £1.4bn to deliver an additional 40,000 affordable home starts by 2020-21. Ministers are also promising to relax restrictions on grant funding “to allow providers to deliver a mix of homes for affordable rent and low cost ownership to meet the housing needs of people in different circumstances and at different stages of their lives”.

In a bid to accelerate construction on public sector land in England, the administration will invest £1.7bn by 2020-21 through partnerships with private sector developers.

All this funding is coming from a new National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF), worth £23bn, which as well as supporting housing will bankroll transport spending, digital communications and research & development.

Ministers have pledged £127m towards funding for road and rail developments in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor.

The NPIF will provide an additional £1.1bn by 2020-21 in new funding to relieve congestion and deliver much-needed upgrades on local roads and public transport networks.

The government will invest £170m in flood defence and resilience measures. Around £20m of this investment will be for new flood defence schemes, £50m for rail resilience projects, including Dawlish, and £100m to improve the resilience of roads to flooding.

In the case of local infrastructure, this week’s Statement said £1.8bn will be awarded to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) across England through a third round of Growth Deals. Some £556m of this will go to the North of England, £392m to LEPs in the Midlands, £151m to the East of England, £492m to London and the South East, and £191m to the South West.

Hammond highlighted that the promised Shale Wealth Fund will provide up to £1bn of additional resources to local communities, over and above industry schemes and other sources of government funding.

On city deals the Statement said the government will work with local partners and the Scottish government towards a city deal for Stirling. The government has confirmed funding for city deals in Aberdeen and Inverness, is making progress towards a deal with Edinburgh, and will consider proposals for a deal with the Tay cities once they are brought forward.

In respect of Wales, the government insisted it was making good progress in discussions with local partners and the Welsh government on a city deal for the Swansea Bay city region. It will also consider options for a growth deal in north Wales.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury will chair a new ministerial group that will oversee the delivery of priority infrastructure projects. The Infrastructure and Projects Authority will lead a review, reporting next summer, to identify ways that government, working with industry, can improve the quality, cost and performance of UK infrastructure.

Read more on the Autumn Statement.

Roger Milne