Spending Review 2020: What happened in housing?

The chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new £4bn Levelling Up Fund and a £7.1bn National Home Building Fund (NHBF) in today's Spending Review.
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Credit: MHCLG/Creative Commons

The chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced measures in today’s Spending Review geared towards helping the UK build hundreds of thousands more homes.

The headline housing announcements made today were the introduction of a £4 billion Levelling Up Fund, and a new £7.1 billion National Home Building Fund (NHBF).

The Levelling Up Fund, which will be managed jointly between the Treasury, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Department for Transport, will be open to bids for all local areas in England, prioritising bids from ‘places in need’ or areas that have received less recent government investment.

The fund will invest in high value local infrastructure projects up to £20 million, including local transport upgrades and regenerating town centres, that will impact local communities and support economic recovery.

The NHBF, meanwhile, will be overseen by MHCLG over the next four years and aims to ‘unlock’ up to 860,000 homes.

The NHBF forms part of almost £20 billion outlined in this year’s Spending Review to underpin the government’s long-term housing strategy.

Sunak said in the House of Commons earlier: “The spending review announced today sets us on a path to deal with the material matters of government.

“It is a clear statement of our priorities, but encouraging the individual and community brilliance on which a thriving society depends, remains, as ever, a work unfinished.

“We in government can set the direction: better schools, more homes, stronger defence, safer streets, green energy, technological development, improved rail, enhanced roads – all investments that will create jobs and give every person in this country the chance to meet their potential.”

The NHBF, initially set at £7.1 billion, will include the provision of £4.8 billion of capital grant funding, including for land remediation, infrastructure investment, and land assembly.

The NHBF will also cover the delivery of the £400 million Brownfield Fund for mayoral combined authorities announced in this year’s Budget, and an additional £100 million for non-mayoral combined authorities next year to support housing delivery and regeneration.

Meanwhile, housebuilders will be supported by £2.2 billion of new loan finance to deliver the Help to Build scheme for self and custom builders and to support SMEs and use of modern methods of construction (MMC).

Furthermore, Sunak re-confirmed its £12.2 billion 2021-26 Affordable Homes Programme, which aims to deliver up to 180,000 new homes for affordable ownership and rent.

Other announcements made in today’s Spending Review include an additional £30 million to help the government deliver its new building safety regime, including funding for the new building safety regulator, and £12 million to take forward its proposed reforms to ‘simplify’ the planning system.

Despite warnings from MPs and campaigners that more funding will be needed, the government also re-announced the £1.6 billion it had already set aside to remove dangerous cladding from high-rise buildings.

£254 million of additional resource funding will go towards tackling rough sleeping, while £87 million will support the delivery of long-term accommodation for rough sleepers.

The government has confirmed that it will publish a prospectus for the Levelling Up Fund and launch the first round of competitions in the New Year.

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