Spring Budget 2023 – NHC on-the-day briefing

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has today (15 March 2023) set out his first Spring Budget outlining the Government’s plans on taxes and key decisions on spending.

Following the Chancellor’s announcements, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has published its economic and fiscal outlook.  The OBR are expecting inflation to fall sharply to 2.9% by the end of 2023.

The Spring Budget was set against a backdrop of growing pressure to do more to help people cope with the ongoing cost of living crisis. Energy costs, private rents, food prices and childcare costs have all been the focus of debate. In the run-up to the Budget, Government has also focussed efforts on helping social housing residents, through their new ‘Make Things Right’ campaign, and we understand the review of the Decent Homes standard is expected to pick up pace soon – sign up for updates.

At the Northern Housing Consortium we used our budget representation and influencing work to highlight the immediate need to uprate the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) back to the 30th percentile and ensure it reflects the real cost of renting in future years. Ending the freeze on support for private renters’ housing costs makes economic sense too – as members tell us the freeze is resulting in homelessness presentations and driving up the use of costly temporary accommodation. Many in the housing sector focussed their efforts on this policy issue, including the Chartered Institute of Housing and Shelter – as it was widely seen as something the Government could do now to help people.

Commenting on the continued LHA freeze, NHC CEO Tracy Harrison said:  “We are hugely disappointed that the chancellor has failed to use his Budget to uprate Local Housing Allowance. This will be a blow to renters across the red wall, who have seen rents consistently rise since 2020 while support for housing costs has been frozen. The continued freeze on LHA also puts our councils under huge pressure and is likely to result in more homelessness presentations and drive up the use of temporary accommodation.”

Members will be aware, the NHC also has long term asks on investment in energy efficiency of existing homes, on brownfield land remediation and local authority capacity. For the Spring Budget we added to these by supporting a coalition, including Age UK and National Energy Action, calling on the Government to:

  • spend at least £6bn annually to help upgrade homes.
  • improve training and supply chains to support the rollout of heat pumps.
  • set aside an initial £5bn for home insulation and £3bn for the installation of heat pumps.

While the Chancellor did not make announcements on energy efficiency investment at the Budget, we understand the Government is planning further net zero announcements this month, which may include allocations from the second wave of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

The Chancellor set out the Government’s priorities in what he described as a ‘Budget for Growth’, with key announcements on energy, childcare, social security and regional economic development.

Our on-the-day analysis of the Chancellor’s announcements is set out in our on-the-day briefing.

Read the full analysis here.