There were a number of headlines that will affect the property sector at the Budget, which was dominated by a promise to guide the economy through the financial fallout of Covid, and hopefully, out of the other side as lockdown is eased.
From a short-term, occupational, point of view, the besieged high street and leisure sectors benefitted from a number of duties freezes and business restart grants as well as a business rates holiday extended to June, with a 75% reduction set to stay temporarily thereafter.
Those that invest in new Plant and Machinery assets received a boost with a 130% ‘super deduction’ capital allowance, between 01/04/2021 and 31/03/2023, which will potentially make the difference to firms who were on the fence as to whether to invest in that new piece of kit or to occupiers considering a refurbishment and re-fit (or even relocate) ahead of welcoming their staff back over the spring.
Residential property benefitted from the stamp duty holiday extended to the end of June – good news for anyone in the process of buying and selling – which remains at 0% up to £500,000 and then starting at £250,000 for three months thereafter.
Aside from these extensions of existing policies, the big feature of the Budget from a property perspective was regeneration and infrastructure. The Chancellor announced a new UK Infrastructure Bank in Leeds that will help fund infrastructure, with a £12 billion war chest to assist with both public and private projects.
New Town deals for 45 further towns have been announced, all sharing out a £1 billion fund to increase social and economic regeneration.
The flagship announcement, however, was the creation of eight new freeports at East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, the Humber, Liverpool, Plymouth, the Solent, the Thames and Teeside. These free ports will allow the passage and transfer of goods in a tariff-free environment, and there are plans to offer tax incentives to those wishing to relocate to the freeports as their physical size expands and their infrastructure demand grows.
As such, together with the short term policies to ease the cash flow of firms, regeneration and in particular, infrastructure were the stars of the show for Rishi Sunak’s second Budget in charge, as the government look to make good on their much vaunted ‘Build Back Better’ promise.