Christmas hasn’t come early

Like many people in the sector, I awaited last week’s budget with lots of anticipation and even some optimism, but having had time to digest everything, I think it’s fair to say Christmas hasn’t come early!

Anne Rowlands of Railway Housing Association inspects a former railway engine shed in Darlington which the Association is developing into affordable housing.

It’s a shame because it had been trailed as the housing budget, but after sitting down, the Chancellor hadn’t left us with any radical changes.

Of course, a pledge to build 300,000 houses a year from the mid-2020s is a good thing, but on cautious note we have had numbers thrown at us before and we haven’t got anywhere near meeting these targets.

And, I welcome the axing of stamp duty for first-time buyers, the scrapping of the seven-day waiting period when Universal Credit is claimed and, on a local level, the money that is to be spent in our region, on the Redcar steelworks site and the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

I was, however, looking for a little bit more. This was a house buyers budget but there was precious little for housing associations like mine who are trying to meet the demand for affordable rented accommodation.

That means there’s no extra grant funding and there’s still the possibility that under right to buy we may lose our homes and not be able to replace them due to the gap between their valuation and their actual sale.

So, it’s certainly not doom and gloom by any means, but it’s also fair to say that Christmas hasn’t come early as far as all parts of the sector are concerned.