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Autumn Budget 2017

Peter Francis Blog: Peter Francis

This year’s budget focused heavily on housing and looks set to encourage strategic planning across wider local areas in addition to encouraging more joint planning and house-building across local authorities. It seeks to improve infrastructure to unlock sites and has the potential to pose greater freedoms around section 106 agreements and other development contributions.

As a business and social enterprise we’re passionate about making a real impact and we remain committed to tackling unemployment by supporting job creation (including apprenticeships) whilst also facilitating training opportunities for people in communities across the UK.

We’re encouraged by the government taking steps to tackle the construction skills shortage and as a business we’ll continue to champion the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 – from embedding social value clauses within our procurement frameworks to investing in skills growth and helping local authorities and developers to secure training and employment opportunities  directly linked to public planning processes. We’ll also continue to support local SME and social enterprise business start-ups and help people to run employability programmes (including ILMs), in addition to delivering practical construction training courses to inmates in UK prisons - teaching the basics of hands-on trades including plumbing, bricklaying, tiling, plastering, joinery and painting and decorating.

Key budget announcements affecting our members:

Announcements affecting the housing sector:

- £15bn of new funding pledged for housing over the next five years, taking the total to £44bn to help build 300,000 homes annually by 2020

- There will be a 100% council tax premium on empty properties;

- £28 million will be invested in three new housing pilots – in the West Midlands, Manchester and Liverpool – to halve rough-sleeping by 2022;

- £34 million will be available to support tackling the construction skills shortage, teaching courses such as bricklaying and plastering;

- One million new homes will be built on the Cambridge/Milton Keynes/Oxford corridor by 2050;

- The Homes and Communities Agency will become Homes England to pool expertise, planning and purchasing powers;

- Stamp duty has been abolished for first-time buyers on homes up to £300,000 on properties up to £500,000;

- £8 billion of financial guarantees will be made available to support private building;

- A £2.7 billion housing infrastructure fund will be launched;

- A review will be commissioned to look at ways to speed up planning permission;

- Five new garden towns will be created;

- Following the Grenfell disaster, Kensington & Chelsea Council will receive £28 million for mental health services and local regeneration;

Announcements affecting the NHS:

- 6.3 billion of new funding will be given to for the NHS and of this:

- £3.5 billion will be invested in upgrading NHS buildings and improving care, whilst £2.8 billion will go towards improving A&E performance, reducing waiting times for patients, and treating more people this winter.

Announcements affecting the education sector:

- A focus on increasing maths attainment means schools will get £600 for every extra pupil who takes A level or Core maths;

- In addition to the above £27 million will help improve how maths is taught in 3,000 schools. £49 million will go towards helping students resitting GCSE maths;

- £350,000 of extra funding a year will be given to every specialist maths school that is set up across the country. The number of fully-qualified computer science teachers will also rise from 4,000 to 12,000.

Brexit update:

In terms of Brexit it was announced that an extra £3 billion will be made available to prepare for the UK’s EU exit over the next two years.

So, how can we support your organisation? Whether you want to find out how we can bring genuine, cashable cost efficiencies to your public sector work programmes; or you need more information on how we can help you to drive social value through our planning; reducing reoffending or consultancy services - get in touch to see how we can support you.