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Autumn statement 2015: At a glance

The AJ’s guide to the key points for architects in today’s autumn statement and spending review

Housing

The government has announced it will double the annual housing budget to £2 billion per year in order to deliver 400,000 affordable homes by the end of the decade.

Making the announcement, Osborne said: ‘The biggest failure of our age has been the failure to build enough houses. We choose to build. It is the time to do much more.’

He claimed it would be the ‘biggest housebuilding programme of any government since the 1970s’, with 160,000 homes to be built on newly released public land and a further 135,000 help-to-buy shared-ownership homes constructed.  

First mooted in the Conservative Party’s election manifesto, right-to-buy is set to be extended and a new pilot – for tenants of five housing associations – will launch at midnight tonight (25 November).

Another new scheme – London help-to-buy – was announced, which will give support for 5 per cent deposits for first-time buyers in the capital.

Osborne also confirmed £300 million of investment for a garden city at Ebbsfleet – an increase from the £200 million it had pledged back in the 2014 Budget.

The increased spending on housing will be funded by an 3 per cent increase in stamp duty for buy-to-let properties and second homes.

School-building

The government announced plans to invest £23 billion in school-building.

This will help to fund a further 500 new schools and university technical colleges across the UK.

In a move which Osborne said would see ‘local authorities running schools become a thing of the past’, he revealed plans to make every secondary school an academy. Just 500 schools were academies five years ago and today there are 5,000.

Prisons

Osborne confirmed government plans to build nine new prisons across the UK.

He also announced that Holloway prison would close as part of plans to sell old prisons and use the funds and land to create inner-city housing.

Student loans

It was good news for Part 2 and 3 architecture students. The announcement that the government is extending student loans to postgraduate course will see them able to receive help paying for their studies.

Infrastructure

Capital spending at the Department for Transport is set to increase by 50 per cent to £61 billion, while its operational budget will fall by 37 per cent.

This will fund the ‘largest road investment programme since the 1970s’, and will see construction begin on HS2, Transport for the North and the scheme to electrify the railways.

London will receive £11 billion of investment in transport infrastructure while the government also pledged a £300 million commitment to cycling.

Flooding

Despite cutting Defra’s budget by 15 per cent, Osborne announced the government would commit £2 billion to protect 300,000 homes from flooding.

Culture

The chancellor said it would increase cash to the Arts Council, while the Factory in Manchester, a new building for the RCA in Battersea and 2017 City of Culture Hull would also receive funding.

He also announced plans for a £150 million project to bring art works out of storage at the British Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Sustainability

The Department for Energy and Climate Change’s day-to-day spending is set to fall by 22 per cent.

The Renewable Heat Incentive will be reformed to save £700 million, while support for low-carbon electricity and renewables will double.

The government also announced that spending on energy research is to be doubled, and there will be a new £1 billion Shale Wealth Fund for communities affected by fracking.

Business rates

The chancellor announced that the small business rate relief scheme will be extended for another year.

Regions

The government announced a £12 billion local growth fund with plans for 26 new extended enterprise zones.

Osborne said the government would abolish uniform business rates giving tax-raising powers to local authorities. Local governments will keep all revenues from business rates, and elected mayors will be able to raise rates as long as the money is used to fund infrastructure.

As part of what Osborne called ‘a revolution in the way we govern the country’, local councils will be able to keep 100 per cent of the income from sales of their properties.

Funding for capital investment in new infrastructure in Northern Ireland will rise by over £600 million in the next five years, while city deals for Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness also received a mention.

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