This year the triumphant Conservative government set about shaping the way ahead for the next Parliament. In 2016 we will begin to see the Conservatives’ pledges take shape. The year will see a new Mayor of London take the helm, elections in Scotland and Wales and the Northern Powerhouse pick up steam.
In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and spending review George Osborne drew to a close a season of major political announcements, many of which directly impact the real estate industry.
Before the dust had settled after the General Election, Osborne published his Fixing the Foundations report which began the reform of planning regulations, put starter homes on the map and promised a decision on airport expansion in the South East by the end of the year. In a year which saw two Budgets and a Spending Review/Autumn Statement, Osborne was not short of set-piece events to communicate his priorities.
In 2016 the London Mayoral Race will take off. With the election date set for 5 May, the candidates will be working hard to gain ground in a contest which seems to close to call. But, both Sadiq Khan (Labour) and Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) could be brought down to earth by the impending announcement on airport expansion. They will also need to convince Londoners that they have a sensible plan to tackle the capital’s housing crisis, transport issues and air quality.
Elections are taking place for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and across a host of local authorities including Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. This will be a key time for the new leader of the Labour Party to prove his metal in a number of key areas and will begin to set the course for the 2020 General Election.
2016 will see Osborne pick himself up after the U-turn on controversial tax credit cuts and continue his ‘devolution revolution’. November’s Spending Review/Autumn Statement pledged keep local government spending the same in cash terms until 2020, double the housing budget to deliver 400,000 affordable homes (to rent and buy) by 2020 and allow Local Authorities to keep cash generated by business rates.
The Housing and Planning Bill is likely to be heard in the House of Lords early next year, once the Bill becomes law it will ensure all councils get Local Plans in place by 2017, give automatic planning permission in principle on brownfield sites and support small builders.
The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill is likely to receive Royal Assent in 2016 and become law. The Bill makes provision for elected mayors in new combined authorities. Equally, Manchester and the Northern Powerhouse will continue to dominate the headlines as ever more powers are devolved.
The next budget will take place on 16th March 2016, just in time for the elections. No doubt devolution and infrastructure investment will continue to feature heavily. Follow @redwoodcomms for our latest blogs and analysis.