Last week our new Chancellor Philip Hammond had a chance to take centre stage and show off his wears with his very first Autumn Statement, which also turned out to be his last! Yes, that’s right the Autumn statement will now be replaced by the actual Budget whilst the spring budget will now be, well a lower key Spring Statement.
It does sort of make sense, with more serious changes happening well in advance of the new tax year and especially as under his predecessor the Autumn Statement had basically become Budget Day 2 – which all seemed a little crazy.
Anyway, it was all a little bit “meh” as I guess we expected given that he wanted to downgrade the whole thing anyway and there were no real surprises with many of the announcements just confirmation of pre-announced items.
There was a relatively downbeat assessment of growth next year, though 2016 GDP growth of 2.1% means that the UK will be fastest growing major economy this year. They also reckon that the whole Brexit palaver has cost us 2.4% in terms of lost growth.
Apart from also learning that it takes a German worker 4 days to make what we do in 5, there was a lot of talk about increasing investment and infrastructure, with Housing getting a big mention.
There was a £2.3bn housing infrastructure fund to help provide 100,000 new homes in high-demand areas and £1.4bn to deliver 40,000 extra affordable homes. Whether this is enough or will actually work remains to be seen.
Corporation Tax was confirmed to be cut to 17% showing Europe that the UK is determined to remain competitive and encourage business to stay here, which they will. The UK and London is still a magical place and people are reticent about moving to other places in Europe.
Those most nursing a hangover are Lettings Agents who have seen agent’s fees for tenants banned. The whole issue is around how transparent these fees are and why, when a landlord engages the agent, a tenant should bear any of these costs. The question is now whether agents now put these on landlords forcing them to increase rents further. Experience in Scotland suggests not.
On the whole it was a decent performance, a couple of good gags, predictably an early one at Boris’s expense and he seemed eminently more listenable than Osborne’s “look-at-me” posturing.
Meanwhile, Halifax are the latest big lender to move back into Interest Only lending which is a big move. Granted to qualify you have to be earning at least £100,000 but in London that really will work and make a difference to a lot of people. Those lenders toying with coming back into this market may be buoyed into action now.
Rates are still low and the mortgage market is still busy so for those looking to complete before Christmas, now is the time to apply.
Rate wise borrowers can now get 2-year variable tracker rates from 1.19% (3.46% APRC), 2 year fixed rates at just 0.99% (3.56% APRC) and a 5-year fix from a mere 1.84% (3.05% APRC).
Buy to Let rates are now available from just 1.49% (5.16% APRC).