Spending Review: 10 things you need to know

10 things you need to know about this week's joint Spending Review and Autumn Statement, including plans to loosen the green belt to deliver Starter Homes and proposals to tighten performance measures for under-performing local planning authorities.

Treasury: Joint Spending Review and Autumn Statement published on 25 November 2015 (picture by Ian Bottle)
Treasury: Joint Spending Review and Autumn Statement published on 25 November 2015 (picture by Ian Bottle)

1. Green belt controls loosened
The government says that it will accelerate housing supply by "supporting the regeneration of previously developed brownfield sites in the green belt by allowing them to be developed in the same way as other brownfield land, providing it contributes to Starter Homes, and subject to local consultation … such as through neighbourhood plans." MORE.

2. Affordable housing investment switches to homes to buy 
The chancellor pledged that the government will deliver 400,000 affordable housing starts across various tenures by 2020/21, with a focus on low-cost home ownership. The homes include 200,000 Starter Homes for first-time buyer and 135,000 "Help to Buy: Shared Ownership homes, which will allow more people to buy a share in their home and buy more shares over time, as they can afford to." The Spending Review also pledged 10,000 homes "that will allow a tenant to save for a deposit while they rent" and at least 8,000 specialist homes for older people and people with disabilities. It said that this will be "in addition to 50,000 affordable homes from existing commitments". MORE.

3. Performance measures tightened
The Spending Review reveals that the government will halve the length of the planning guarantee for minor development and says that the government will bring forward proposals to strengthen the special measures regime, "by lowering the threshold for the quality of decisions to 10 per cent of all major decisions overturned on appeal. Wider circumstances, such as the status of the local plan and whether appeals relate to this, will be taken into account". The document also includes a proposal to establish a new delivery test on local authorities, to ensure delivery against the number of homes set out in local plans.

4. Focus on planning obligations
The Spending Review document says that the government will bring forward proposals for a "more standardised approach to viability assessments, and extend the ability to appeal against unviable section 106 agreements to 2018".

5. Housing incentive scheme faces review
The Spending Review reveals that the government will consult on changes to the New Homes Bonus scheme, "including means of sharpening the incentive to reward communities for additional homes and reducing the length of payments from six years to four years". MORE.

6. DCLG and local government face cuts
The Department for Communities and Local Government will provide overall resource savings of 29 per cent by 2019/20 "through better financial management and further efficiency", the Spending Review document says. It adds that the local government settlement includes reductions to local government grant of £6.1 billion by 2019/20, "though given forecast increases to other sources of local government income, overall local government spending will be higher in cash terms by 2019/20 than in 2015/16".

7. New wave of enterprise zones
The chancellor announced 15 new enterprise zones in "smaller towns and rural areas" and the expansion of eight existing enterprise zones. The Treasury said that seven new enterprise zones would be created at unspecified locations in the North. MORE.

8. Cash for Ebbsfleet garden city
The Spending Review document commits the government to providing £310 million of funding to deliver "15,000 homes at Ebbsfleet, the first garden city in the UK for over 100 years". MORE.

9. Increase in transport capital spending
Osborne said that, while the Department for Transport’s operational budget will fall by 37 per cent, "transport capital spending will increase by 50 per cent to a total of £61 billion". The chancellor promised the "largest road investment programme since the 1970s" and said that the investment would mean that the construction of the HS2 link can begin and the "electrification of lines like the Trans-Pennine, Midland Main Line and Great Western can go ahead". Osborne also said that London will get an £11 billion investment in its transport infrastructure.

10. Small-scale nuclear power pledge
The chancellor announced a competition to encourage research into small-scale nuclear power projects. A £250 million research and development programme will include a competition to "identify the best value small modular reactor design for the UK", the Spending Review document said.

Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015 is available here.


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