While an allegedly growing number of people – both UK citizens and those recently arrived – have taken to living in garden sheds, garages and other seemingly unsuitable circumstances, speakers during the recent round of party political conferences did attempt to ‘shed’ some light on their various intentions regarding the UK housing market and the wider construction market. And as the UK’s foremost cosmetic repair specialist, Plastic Surgeon was taking a close interest in proceedings.
The Tories said a Conservative government would release cheaper, commercial “brownfield” land for housebuilding – with properties reserved for first-time buyers. Its Starter Homes scheme would be exempt from a range of taxes, enabling them to be sold for 20% below the market rate – this rate reduction should apply to the sort of repair work we undertake at Plastic Surgeon too, just to further keep costs down.
Labour, meanwhile, wants to increase annual housebuilding rates to 200,000 by the end of the next parliament; but its review has unfortunately been delayed, so we’re not sure how this will pan out. The Lib Dems later pledged to build five new towns along a train line linking Oxford to Cambridge, to create an extra 50,000 new homes in an area of intense demand for housing in the Home Counties.
The papers at the beginning of October also revealed that the UK is experiencing a baby boom; they will grow up to quite rightfully expect a roof over their heads. We at Plastic Surgeon say, let’s start repairing our one million empty homes – while also to Government, sort out our housebuilding crisis, and do it now.
Finally, attracting a lot of discussion, although it is expected to affect a relatively low percentage of property owners – at present that is – was the subject of a Mansion Tax. Previously muted as being appropriate for places worth in excess of £1 million, the idea being talked about this time was for people with homes valued at over £2 million to be charged an annual levy of one per cent. The Lib Dems even floated the idea of a ‘Super Council Tax’ bracket.
The difficulty with this method of raising revenue for the next Chancellor is that it could well affect those who have a high level of equity, but very moderate income. Whatever a person’s situation, or how much their property is worth, almost everyone is keen to keep maintenance costs to a minimum, which is why we would recommend checking out our specialised repair services before deciding to task a general builder or tradesperson with a challenge they do not have the equipment or know-how to tackle.
What I would say to the politicians of all persuasions, however, is that while our Finishers are highly skilled at dealing with chipped ceramics and spalled stonework, there is unfortunately nothing we can do about cracks in party unity, broken promises or collapses in their opinion poll ratings.