Spring Budget 2024

On March 6th, Jeremy Hunt gave his final Spring Budget prior to the next general election. The headline grabbing announcement within the Budget was a 2p cut to National Insurance, but there were still several relevant policy announcements for NHC members.

Members will have received a full on-the-day briefing in their inboxes, breaking down all the Chancellor’s announcements in detail. This can be accessed here, while some of the major announcements are outlined below.



One of the most noteworthy announcements in the Budget was that the government has agreed a new Level 4 deeper devolution agreement with the seven local authorities that will form the North East Mayoral Combined Authority. This new agreement will devolve further powers and funding to the North East region, including greater local influence over the Affordable Homes Programme and additional planning powers for the Mayor to be elected on 2nd May.

Additional details were also announced as to how Greater Manchester Combined Authority will progress towards receiving a departmental-style funding settlement in the future.

This came just days after further announcements that Liverpool City Region, and South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authorities will also be signing new deeper devolution agreements, with additional powers and funding going to each of these areas.


Levelling Up and Pride in Place

The Budget included an expansion of the 10-year Long-Term Plan for Towns programme, to cover another 20 towns, including Darlington and Bradford. Each town within the programme will receive £20 million in endowment-style funding and be required to establish a Towns Board which brings together local stakeholders to plan how the funds will be used.

There was also a further £100 million of funding announced for cultural projects, including the British Library North in Leeds, the National Railway Museum in York and National Museums Liverpool – welcome investments in culture-led regeneration.


Right to Buy receipts

There have also been two significant changes to how local authorities can use the funds raised from Right to Buy sales going forward. Firstly, the ability of local authorities to keep 100% of receipts, introduced in 2023 for two years, has been ended. Secondly, the proportion of a new home that can be funded through Right to Buy receipts was increased from 40% to 50%.


Housing tax changes

The Chancellor also announced several tax changes relating to housing in his Budget. Firstly, the Chancellor chose to abolish the Furnished Holiday Lettings tax regime, which gave short term holiday lets preferential tax treatment. This follows criticism that this tax advantage was having an adverse impact on the supply of properties available for long-term rent. Secondly, the higher rate of Capital Gains Tax for residential property disposals will be cut from 28% to 24% from the 6th April 2024. Social landlords will also see changes to property taxation, with the introduction of a new exemption from Stamp Duty for Registered Social Landlords when purchasing a property using public subsidy.


Housing investments

While the Budget did not make any mention of the Affordable Homes Programme, there were some smaller spending announcements for the housing sector. First among these was £20 million of social finance to support community housebuilding initiatives over ten years. The Budget also included an additional £3 million, matching industry-led funding, to increase capacity in local planning departments in the next Spending Review period.


Overall, while the Budget did have some welcome announcements, especially devolving greater power and funding to the North, it represents another missed opportunity by government to deliver the investment and real change that our communities need. For the Chancellor to truly make a difference for the North’s housing sector, we need to see an ambitious future Affordable Homes Programme, funding to ensure that the North’s housing meets an improved Decent Homes Standard, and a long-term investment in housing decarbonisation. You can read the NHC’s Spring Budget representation here, which contains details on these asks.

APPG for Housing in the North convenes for first session of 2024

NHC CEO Tracy Harrison with APPG Chair Ian Mearns MP

In March, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Housing in the North convened to host the Parliamentary launch of the latest edition of the Northern Housing Monitor, the Northern Housing Consortiums annual publication of the most-pressing housing issues facing northern regions and the data which underpins them. The meeting was attended by a range of Parliamentarians including APPG Chair Ian Mearns MP, Peers Lord Stunell (APPG Vice Chair), the Lord Bishop of Manchester and Lord Shipley. There was also representation from the Labour frontbench with Shadow Minister for Local Services and Communities, Liz Twist MP, in attendance.

Introducing the meeting under the theme of Northern Housing Priorities for 2024, NHC chief executive Tracy Harrison discussed how the Monitor had established a reputation as the ‘Northern Housing Bible’. Tracy also welcomed the University of Huddersfield’s Dr Tom Simcock, who attended the meeting to present the findings of the recent Living in Fear report which details the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on those living in poor quality private rented housing. Tracy noted that while the data from the Northern Housing Monitor is key, it is also essential to hear about the lived experiences of real people, hence the importance of backing up the Monitor with the findings of the Living in Fear report.

Derek Long represented Northern Housing Monitor authors arc4 at the meeting and provided insights on the key trends and developments for housing in the north as evidenced in the Monitor. Derek noted that the Monitor is a useful resource for regional specific data to identify place-based priorities, while also being useful to present data on the root causes of the housing crisis.

Derek was followed by Dr Tom Simcock, who presented to the Group on the key findings from the Living in Fear report. APPG attendees were in agreement that the findings from Living in Fear highlighted the stark and desperate reality for some people living in the private rented sector amid the rising costs of bills and essentials. Shadow Minister Liz Twist noted the issue at a constituency level of poor quality private rented housing in the North East and the detrimental impact it can have on people’s health – as illustrated in the Living in Fear report.

Further information on the meeting can be found in the APPG Meeting Notes which can be found on the APPG’s dedicated webpage here – https://www.northern-consortium.org.uk/services/policy/parliament/appg-for-housing-in-the-north/

Tracy Harrison with APPG Chair Ian Mearns MP


The foundations for a career in housing

As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations we’re speaking to staff past and present to find out what they think about working at the NHC. This month we spoke to Anna Seddon, who worked in our Policy & Public Affairs team until 2022. She is now Senior Public Affairs Officer at Citizens Advice.


When did you start at the NHC, what were your roles and what are you doing now?

I started as Policy and Public Affairs Assistant in 2019, became Policy and Public Affairs Officer in 2020 then Policy and Public Affairs Manager in 2022.

I’m now the Senior Public Affairs Officer in the national Citizens’ Advice team leading on net zero homes and working with the team across other areas such as cost of living and General Election planning


Could you reflect on your time at the NHC and what your favourite things about working here were?

My three years at the NHC working across research, political engagement, comms, and Executive support, were brilliant. Those years were a really exciting time to be working on housing policy (though of course it always is!). After the 2019 election, the levelling up agenda had presented regions in the North with a golden opportunity to haul housing up the political agenda and the NHC team grabbed it with both hands. And of course the team were all a complete joy to work with, and they all had a huge amount of expertise in their area.


What were some of the projects or campaigns you worked on while you were at the NHC?

The most exciting project I worked on was the growth of the net zero homes workstream. It was decided by the team early in my time at the NHC that this area should become a major part of the NHC’s policy and influencing work. There was so much enthusiasm to develop a major programme of work on home retrofit, from creating a detailed theory of change to turning that into action across the region. It was a real team effort to build a strong position on energy efficiency and identify the areas the NHC could make the most difference.

From the programme’s inception, I loved working on such an important and lively area of policy and illustrating to policymakers the harmful impact of poorly insulated homes, especially as energy bills were starting to rocket and evidence of people living in cold homes grew. It’s great to see the NHC still do brilliant work on this, and something I continue to work on in my current job!


How do you think working at the NHC helped you in your career?

Personal development was taken incredibly seriously at the NHC and I always felt supported to get involved in all sorts of different projects and encouraged to go for different opportunities. This culture meant I learned a huge amount from teams within the organisation, as well as from colleagues across the NHC’s membership. I also gained a formal CIH qualification during my time through the GEM programme which I hope to continue to build on in the future (it seemed to be a recurring joke at housing events that once you work in housing policy you never leave and that’s now easy to foresee!).


What would you say to someone who was considering working for the NHC?

I wouldn’t hesitate to encourage someone to apply for any role at the NHC – you’re guaranteed to be in a lovely team dedicated to delivering the very best for members and their communities. If you’re early in your career, I would double my encouragement!


In 2021, you wrote an article for the NHC website about the importance of putting housing at the heart of a place-based approach to post-lockdown neighbourhood renewal. Do you think the North has made progress on this?

I’d say the biggest shift since then is that housing issues now sit at the centre of political discussion, whereas as we know they haven’t always occupied space in those conversations. It seems the next General Election will take place within this context and that’s a massive win for the NHC and wider housing sector who have tenaciously made the case for housing and its wider role in our lives, communities, and the local and national economy. Whoever forms the next Government has a long list of urgent housing issues to grasp: increasing the supply of social homes, improving energy efficiency across tenures, bringing forward long-awaited renters’ reforms, to name only a few. It’s another huge opportunity for the North to keep shifting the dial on housing.

I’m sure we could write another long list of the opportunities around housing that have been missed by the Government since the pandemic, but this is a celebratory interview so I’ll leave that to the current NHC team for another time – happy 50th anniversary, NHC!


Serving the community since the 70s

Ian Vickers, neighbourhood team leader at Believe Housing, has worked in housing since 1978. He joined Easington District Council as a painter and decorator, before becoming a neighbourhood officer a few years later.

He came to speak to NHC colleagues at our staff quarterly meeting as part of 50 Stories Live.

Tell us about when you joined the council?

I applied to be an apprentice painter and decorator and was interviewed by 70 people in the council chamber. A lot of councillors were there, and there was the personnel department too! It was intimidating for a young 16-year-old lad, I’d brought in schoolwork to show! But I managed to hold my nerve by focusing on the one person I knew in the audience.

It was so different back then. They asked me if I was Catholic.  If you were, a percentage of your wage was paid to the church. To do the job it was compulsory to be in the union. Women were asked if they had a boyfriend and if they planned to have children, this would definitely no longer be part of an interview.

What prompted you to move from being a painter and decorator to working in neighbourhood management?

It was a case of redundancy, and I was offered a position in the neighbourhood team. I did a week of shadowing and then I was straight out into the community!

What have been the biggest changes since you started?

The number of homes we manage has fluctuated with Right to Buy and pit closures changing the face of communities. I’ve overseen a lot of houses being pulled down, due to structural faults, or there simply not being the demand. When the mines closed a lot of younger people moved away from the pit villages to find work. This meant older people tended to stay put and didn’t want bungalows anymore.

Things have now gone full circle as with the bedroom tax there’s now more demand for smaller properties. We’re also redeveloping and building new homes in many of the areas we were demolishing homes in a few years ago.

Ian (second left) doing consultation in Murton on home improvements in the early 90s.

The introduction of IT has changed how we work and the pace. When I started, we relied on paper memos. Now everything has been digitalised and can be done so much quicker. We no longer have to wait for monthly committees to meet to decide on allocations.

What’s got better over time?

Housing providers listen to customers a lot more now, and often customers’ needs turn out to be different to what we expected.  Customer communication has improved, and we’ve got better at listening.  It’s great to see customers as part of the board, making a real difference.

Green Jobs, Sustainable Futures

We know that recruitment and skill development is one of the biggest challenges our members face in delivering on net zero. There are not enough people with the skills needed to do the vital decarbonisation work necessary, like installing heat pumps, retrofit assessment and build energy efficient housing. Whilst the skills gap exists costs will remain high, and we will struggle to meet the ambition we all have for greener, safer, healthier homes.

But we also know that our members are doing amazing work in decarbonising their homes and creating many brilliant new jobs in the process. Jobs that might not have existed five or ten years ago!

We want to showcase the work members are doing in building the green economy and training the workers who can help us reach net zero.

Over the last two years, we have been showcasing your work in Real Homes, Real Change a collection of case studies highlighting the best retrofit projects across the North. Now we want to build a new collection of stories highlighting the brilliant new jobs you are creating!

Want to get involved?

Case study

Send us your green employment programme case study, including:

  • Background: What your net zero ambitions are, and what skills gap did you need to fill?
  • Challenges: What are the challenges you face in terms of green skills and recruitment?
  • Action: what have you done as an organisation to recruit and upskill for these positions?
  • Partnerships: Do you have an example of partnership working to help tackle the skills gap? E.g. with a contractor, school, college or university?
  • Impact: Who have you trained or recruited? What skills/qualifications do they have now? What work have they been able to do as a result?

Employee profiles

We also want to build a showcase of employee profiles demonstrating the range of opportunities to get involved in sustainability in the housing sector. We would love to hear from early career professionals or those who have recently moved into working in a sustainability-focused role.

  • Name
  • Job title
  • Background – what training, qualifications or education prepared you for this job?
  • Why did you want to work in sustainability?
  • What projects have you worked on so far?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Photo

Please aim to keep case studies between 500 and 750 words and employee profiles less than 500.

Any questions, please get in touch with James Bryson – James.Bryson@Northern.Consortrium.org.uk

NHC consultations – Get involved

Awaab’s Law: Consultation on timescales for repairs in the social rented sector – having consulted with members, we are currently completing our response ahead of the date for submission of 5 March. If your organisation is planning your own submission, we would be happy to receive any draft or final copy. Please send to Karen.brown@northern-consortium.org.uk


Consultation on reforms to social housing allocations – we are currently taking views from members including those who attended our consultation on 27 February. If you have any comments on the consultation, please let us know. If your organisation is planning your own submission, we would be happy to receive any draft or final copy. The closing date for submissions to DLUHC is 26 March. Please send to Tom.kennedy@northern-consortium.org.uk


Competence and Conduct Standard for social housing – we are currently taking views from members. If you have any comments on the consultation, please let us know. If your organisation is planning your own submission, we would be happy to receive any draft or final copy. The closing date for submissions to DLUHC is 2 April. Please send to  karen.brown@northern-consortium.org.uk and tom.kennedy@northern-consortium.org.uk

Competition and Markets authority voices significant concerns with housebuilding market

The Competition and Markets Authority has shared its “fundamental concerns” with British housebuilding in a new report. The report, culminating a year-long study of the nation’s housebuilding market, outlines how both the unpredictability and complexity of the planning system, and a reliance on speculative private development, are significantly contributing to the under-delivery of new homes.

In addition, the study found that home owners on new housing estates are paying unfair estate management fees to pay for the maintenance of amenities such as roads and has called for new consumer protections to be introduced.

The report rightly concludes that local planning departments are in many instances under-resourced, which can lead to delays in processing applications. Between 2010 and 2018, spending in local authority planning departments in the North fell by 65%, compared to a 50% fall in the rest of England. To remedy this, the Competition and Markets Authority proposes that the government could make planning fees cost-reflective and ring-fence these funds to increase planning capacity.

Along with this capacity issue, the report concludes that the planning system is currently undermining the delivery of new homes in several other ways. Firstly, due to the requirement to obtain planning permission on a site-by-site basis, housing developers are not provided with certainty or predictability as to what proposals or schemes will receive permission prior to application. Secondly, the study found that the incredibly complex and resource intensive nature of planning applications is also undermining delivery. Thirdly, the Competition and Markets Authority found insufficient clarity, consistency and strength of local housing targets, objectives and incentives to deliver on these targets.

Another important conclusion from the study is that speculative private development – where developers purchase land, obtain planning permission and build new homes without knowing who will purchase them – cannot meet housing need alone. While private development will always play an important role in delivering new homes, increasing delivery outside of this model would further help to increase the number of new homes built each year. To do so, the country needs to increase the amount of new affordable housing, as well as the number of self-build and build-to-rent homes. This echoes some of the conclusions made in the 2018 Independent Review of Build-Out Rates that called for greater diversity across the housebuilding sector to improve the rate at which new homes that have received planning permission are built.

Finally, the Competition and Markets Authority also announced that they would be opening a new investigation into possible anti-competitive practices by eight major housebuilders. The investigation will focus on whether the developers in question shared information that may undermine competition in the sector. The Competition and Markets Authority was clear to point out that they are not making any judgements yet as to whether competition law has been breached.

A summary of the Competition and Markets Authority’s report and associated policy proposals can be accessed here.

Supporting victim survivors of gambling-related domestic abuse – a focus on women in social housing

Social enterprise, Addressing Domestic Abuse (ADA), are seeking information from housing providers in England on any approaches they currently use in relation to gambling harms and domestic abuse and would be grateful if you could take a minute or two to complete an anonymous survey which will greatly assist their research.          

As well as using findings from the survey, they will be undertaking in depth interviews with victim survivors (nationally) and carrying out focus groups and interviews with a range of key stakeholders with a view to producing a free toolkit for social housing (and other sectors) as well as a research report detailing the research findings and policy proposals.  They will be holding interviews with stakeholders and focus groups in the following areas:

  1. Durham/Newcastle
  2. Liverpool
  3. London
  4. Birmingham

 The research project runs into 2025, awarded by the Gambling Commission and using regulatory settlement funds. The research partners are:

  • Durham University
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • Cranfield University
  • Betknowmore UK
  • Addressing Domestic Abuse

 More information can be found here. Additionally, the team would like to speak to women living in social housing who have experienced domestic abuse and harmful gambling, with more information here.