A double dose of good news, just when we need it
The thing about the Coronavirus outbreak, is that nobody quite knows how bad it’ll get, or who’ll be affected worse by it. And not just the virus itself that’s damaging, but the knock-on effects it has on businesses. So it was reassuring to see yesterday’s two big financial announcements.
First it was the Bank of England’s interest rate cut, taking rates from 0.75% to 0.25%. It’s the first emergency cut since the financial crash of 2008. They’re now at the same level as just after the EU referendum in 2016. I think this can only be good news for the housing and construction industry, as lower rates could either spur people into remortgaging to free up funds for renovation, or think about moving home altogether, while rates are at their lowest, but before house prices spike.
Once this news had sunk in, it was Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s turn. Even though this budget was all about the measures to help the UK economy tackle the Coronavirus there were some key pledges for housing and construction. The biggest was his pledge to spend over £600bn on roads, rail, broadband and housing by 2025. Sunak said: ‘If the country needs it, we will build it.’ Let’s see if he keeps his word.
This was alongside a promise of £1.5bn capital spending on further education colleges. But more significant – in my eyes – will be the 2 per cent stamp duty fee for overseas buyers. As promised in last year’s Conservative party manifesto, the funds from this will go towards social and affordable homes, as well as reducing homelessness.
This will have a huge snowball effect that will improve communities. And this will ultimately lead to bigger investment in our towns and cities.