The Autumn Statement provides an update on the government’s plans for the economy based on the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, also published today.
The Chancellor said when the current public sector pay freeze ends – in 2013, for most – pay rises for public sector workers would average 1 per cent for a further two years saving more than £1 billion.
Most departments will have their funding cut to reflect the reduced pay bill. However, health and schools will be allowed to retain the savings “to protect those budgets in real terms”, he told MPs.
In his Statement the Chancellor restated a number of policies trailed in last week’s Housing Strategy for England, these include:
- New build indemnity scheme - under the scheme, home buyers will be able to purchase new build houses and flats with a five per cent deposit.
- Get Britain Building investment fund - this new £400 million programme, to be managed by the Homes and Communities Agency, will aim to unlock up to 16,000 homes on stalled sites.
- Right to Buy - reinvigorate the Right to Buy to support social tenants who aspire to own their own home. For each home purchased, the Government says it will provide an additional affordable home.
- Empty homes - the Spending Review allocated £100 million to bring problematic empty homes in areas of high demand back into use as affordable housing. The Housing Strategy announced a further £50 million of funds to help tackle some of the worst concentrations of empty homes in areas of low demand.
- Support locally planned large scale development - this could include modern garden cities, urban and village extensions. The Government will invite proposals from developers and local authorities for new developments which have clear local support.
- Green Deal - the government is allocating £200 million of additional one-off capital resource to the Green Deal for energy efficiency in its initial phase over 2012-13 and 2013-14, to encourage early uptake. Further details will be set out next year and any plans will be subject to state aid considerations.
In response to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said:
"The Government is ploughing money into infrastructure projects and building schemes which it hopes will give the economy an immediate boost."The Federation also reports that a VAT exemption for shared services has potential to provide significant savings to the sector.
"But it has largely ignored the one industry which would provide the Treasury with the biggest bang for the taxpayers’ buck: house-building."
"A public investment of £1bn - matched by £8bn from housing associations - would build 66,000 shared ownership homes for people on low to middle incomes, create 400,000 jobs and in doing so save the taxpayer £700m in job seeker's allowance not to mention the added savings from housing benefit and increased tax revenues."