The Planning System
The capacity of the planning system is to be strengthened with the introduction of new planning services across England, with guaranteed accelerated decision dates for major applications and fee refunds wherever these are not met.
The government has pledged £5 million toward the Planning System to incentivise greater use of Local Development Orders in England, with the hope that key commercial projects can secure planning permission faster.
Additional funding is to be provided to tackle planning backlogs in Local Planning Authorities, alongside a new Permitted Development Right to enable one house to be converted into two flats.
Local Housing Allowance
The Local Housing Allowance (LHA), a form of Housing Benefit for tenants who rent from private landlords, is going to be set to the 30th percentile of local market rents from April 2024.
The government announced that the LHA rates will be maintained at this higher level in cash terms afterwards.
Planning – Local Nutrient Mitigation Fund
The government confirmed that £110 million will be made available through the Local Nutrient Mitigation Fund.
This will support Local Planning Authorities affected by nutrient neutrality rules to deliver high quality local nutrient offsetting schemes, with the aim to unlock up to 40,000 homes over the next five years.
Construction Industry Scheme Reform
The compliance test for Gross Payment Status (GPS) under the Construction Industry Scheme will now include Value Added Tax as one of the taxes to which a subcontractor must demonstrate compliance with, to obtain and keep GPS.
Mortgage Guarantee Scheme
HM Treasury launched the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme (MGS) in April 2021 to help with the availability of 95% loan-to-value mortgage products.
The MGS allows participating lenders to purchase a government guarantee for 91-95% LTV mortgage products which protects them against a portion of first losses incurred in the event of foreclosure.
This measure extends the scheme until the end of June 2025.
Reforms to Energy-Saving Materials VAT Relief
Following a call for evidence, the government will expand the VAT relief available on the installation of energy-saving materials by extending the relief to additional technologies, such as water-source heat pumps.
It will also bring buildings used solely for a relevant charitable purpose within scope.
These reforms will be implemented throughout the UK in February 2024 and full details on these reforms will be published by the government in due course.