Week commencing 15 October 2018

In today's bulletin

• Plans for removing borrowing cap to be pushed forward
• Construction sector continuing to build – despite Brexit uncertainties

• Climate experts to advise on net zero emissions target
• UK wages growing at fastest rate since the financial crisis

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Plans for removing borrowing cap to be pushed forward

The Government is moving forward with plans to scrap the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap, following the announcement of the plan at the Conservative Party conference earlier this month.
Housing Secretary, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, wrote to local authorities on Thursday (18 October) saying that the cap would be removed as soon as possible and that further details will be confirmed in 29 October’s Autumn Budget.

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Housing associations increase involvement in homes for market sale

Housing associations contributed to 17 per cent of all housing completions in 2017/18, according to Savills, as they look to subsidise affordable development programmes.
The figures, released on Thursday (18 October), follow the recent announcement of £2bn of additional funding for housing associations to build affordable and social housing.

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Survey results show support for co-living developments

New research from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has found that one in three people favour an increase in co-living developments – which typically involve some shared communal spaces for residents.
This was the most popular of all surveyed solutions to the housing crisis. The FMB surveyed 2,000 homeowners, with the least popular solution being building on the green belt (17 per cent).

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Plan to turn renters into owners released

The Centre for Policy Studies has released a report detailing proposals to give landlords and tenants a rebate if a property is sold to the tenant.
The report, published on 12 October, proposes to take the rebate from the Capital Gains Tax currently paid by the landlord upon sale, which it claims would incentivise both parties at no cost to the Treasury.

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Landlords less likely to increase rent for existing tenants

On 17 October, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released an update to The Index of Private Housing Rental Prices (IPHRP), which measures changes to the price of renting residential property from private landlords. The statistics show that landlords are less likely to increase rents for existing tenants.
This is thought to happen because they prefer a small rent increase from a known reliable tenant, rather than experiencing a void period with no income and the associated cost of re-letting.

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New report examines community led housing

A new report examining the current retail mortgage environment for community led housing was launched by the National Community Land Trust (CLT) Network and CDS Co-operatives on 15 October.
The report, Community led housing and retail mortgage lending: building the partnership 2018, sets out to offer a better understanding of the types of home ownership schemes lenders will support and how best to engage with the industry to raise awareness of community led housing.

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Consultation launched to improve leasehold sector

On 15 October, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire launched a consultation on plans to improve the leasehold sector for would-be home owners.
The proposals would see the majority of new-build houses sold as freeholds and new leases capped at £10. It is hoped that these changes would see the end of unnecessary leaseholds.

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August mortgage lending up 5.2 per cent year-on-year

Figures released by UK Finance on 16 October reveal that the number of first-time buyers is at its highest level since June 2017. The figures reveal there were 35,500 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in August 2018, a two per cent increase on the same month a year earlier.
They also showed that the £6.1bn of new lending in August was a 5.2 per cent increase on the previous year.

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Fund released to replace unsafe cladding

Unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding will be removed from 135 buildings after the Government released £248 million to 12 councils and 31 housing associations. The money will allow councils and housing associations to make the necessary changes to high rise buildings used for social sector housing, without having to cut back on other key services.
It’s the first tranche of the near £400 million promised by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, earlier this year.

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Construction sector continuing to build – despite Brexit uncertainties

UK construction and infrastructure workers are as busy as ever, according to the results of the latest RICS UK Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey. The survey shows that workloads are rising across all sectors and regions, despite the uncertainties of Brexit.
The buoyant market is attributed to the Government’s investment in private housing and infrastructure, and large projects like HS2 and Heathrow expansion starting work.

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Individual successes prop up bleak wider picture

Molior London’s latest Quarterly Sales Analysis shows that construction starts and sales of new homes in London are at their lowest level since 2012. Nevertheless, there are some causes for optimism in what is a generally bleak picture for the sector in 2018.
Developments in Underground Zone 3 are selling well alongside individual schemes in Zones 1 and 2. Far East investors are also continuing to invest in London’s new homes market.

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Retail sales down in September

Retail sales volumes experienced a bigger drop off than expected in September, with a 0.8 per cent decline, official figures have revealed. The decline is mainly due to the 1.5 per cent drop in sales in food stores, the largest monthly decline in food sales since October 2015.
However, the figures reported that sales volumes were ultimately up 1.2 per cent in the three months to September, thanks largely to a strong summer.

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Proposals released for national cycleway along HS2 corridor

The Government has published a study looking into the feasibility of a new national cycleway along the HS2 corridor. The report follows two years of dialogue with stakeholders along the route, and identifies a broad three-mile corridor either side of the new HS2 railway line.
While there are currently no plans to fund the cycleway, the study calls for involvement from local authorities to provide financial support for the project.

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New survey results call for improvements in paths and crossing facilities

Independent road use watchdog Transport Focus has published research into the impact of poorly maintained roads on cyclists, equestrians and pedestrians.
The report, which has been called ‘illuminating’ by Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, hopes to put pressure on Highways England to make improvements to roads to better meet the needs of all users.

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Energy and environment

Climate experts to advise on net zero emissions target

To mark the launch of the first ever Green GB & NI Week, Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry has asked the Committee on Climate Change for advice on achieving the net zero greenhouse gas emissions target.
The Government’s announcement of a package of measures to develop greener infrastructure has been welcomed by Sir John Armitt, the Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission.

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WindEurope sets out vision for renewable energy in response to consultation

WindEurope has called for the European Union to consider renewable-based electrification of all energy uses as the key driver for decarbonisation in its roadmap towards a net-zero emissions strategy.
WindEurope used its latest report, Breaking New Ground, as the basis for its official response to the public consultation on the strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

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Innovators invited to pitch for funding to tackle climate change

Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced that four new research programmes will receive £60m in funding to support the UK’s resilience to climate change.
The announcement was made during the Green GB & NI Week and will see Britain’s best innovators and researchers invited to pitch their ideas to receive the funding.

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Environmental performance of UK businesses continues to improve

Figures released by the Environment Agency (EA) have shown that the environmental performance of regulated businesses across the country continues to improve.
The report shows that 93 per cent of the 14,000 businesses the EA regulates demonstrated good compliance with their environmental permit conditions.

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Other News

UK wages growing at fastest rate since the financial crisis

The latest Labour Force Survey, UK labour market: October 2018, has shown that employees received a bumper pay rise in the three months to the end of August with wage growth at the highest level since the financial crisis.
Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees increased by 3.1 per cent, excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.

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Cheaper food and drink drives UK inflation lower

Data from the Office for National Statics has shown that the UK inflation rate fell more than expected in September after hitting a six-month high in August.
The Consumer Prices Index revealed that the largest downward contribution came from food and non-alcoholic drinks, while others came from transport, recreation and culture, and clothing.

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