Robert Peston, ITV’s political editor, thinks the new prime minister would like to do “something big” on housing within November’s Autumn Statement.
Delivering his keynote speech at FSE London event at Old Billingsgate, Peston said that both Theresa May and the new chancellor, Philip Hammond, appeared keen to make some significant announcements in relation to the housing market.
“They seem keen to do something big on housing,” he said. “But beyond saying this, they’ve not said a great deal. They know they can’t overturn overnight the economy’s reliance on home ownership and rising house prices. Will they have a new model for the release of land for development? They might do more on shared ownership. Will they try to do something on greater security of tenure for those in rented accommodation? Longer-term tenancies seem to be one way she [May] thinks she could help.”
When discussing what else the government might announce in November’s Autumn Statement, Peston suggested there was unlikely to be “a massive fiscal reset”. “There are unlikely to be massive increases in spending or massive cuts to taxes,” he said. “I do expect there to be some long-term signalling on housing, industrial strategy and the productivity challenge.”
He said the government was fixated on improving productivity arguing this was a big message for May, however there was no detail on how it would do this. He argued that new infrastructure projects would not necessarily see the light of day, due to ‘NIMBYism’ and May’s relatively small majority in the House of Commons.
Peston also questioned why the City appeared to be calm in the face of so many significant challenges, outlining how there could be major issues to deal with in both the Eurozone and China, plus the overall indebtedness of the UK and any anticipation of low growth might eventually spook international investors.
“The City is surprisingly relaxed about all these uncertainties,” he said. “Why? Because they believe the Bank of England will work it out and come up with the solutions. It’s unhealthy that we’ve become completely reliant on central banks to bail us out when things go wrong and we’re not doing enough to fix the foundations of the economy.”