Welcome to our social housing finance newsletter.
Rishi Sunak will announce his first Budget tomorrow. The Government faces a number of challenges as it tries to balance the books carrying out its significant infrastructure projects and levelling out investment in the north, while dealing with the inevitable impact of Brexit and, more recently, the significant effects of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
The Government announced on 20 February that it will continue with the Help to Buy (HTB) Scheme from 2021 to 2023. This means help will remain in place for first time buyers for properties up to a market value and up to a regional price cap. Housing associations who wish to continue to use the HTB scheme, must commit to measures to improve consumer quality and experience. These include:
In addition, enhanced fire safety standards will be published and housing associations will need to sign up to the new Building Safety Charter when it is launched.
There has been significant criticism of HTB, and the sector has asserted that it has had an adverse impact on shared ownership. The National Audit Office has questioned whether it has delivered value for money. In the longer term, the sector expects the HTB financial assistance to be replaced with greater investment in shared ownership.
It will be a significant year for the housing sector. Social Housing magazine has published research showing a third of housing providers are looking overseas for funding. In addition, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority have stepped up pressure on the financial sector to implement the transition from LIBOR to risk free rates.
Our first article is written by Stephen Goldstraw a partner in our corporate tax team. Stephen gives his predictions on what is likely to be contained in the Budget.
Our second article is written by Michael Brown, a partner who specialises in financial services. Michael sets out what housing associations need to do now to prepare for this change, and how to approach negotiations.
I hope you enjoy these articles, and do not hesitate to get in touch.