Budget offers timely action but future focus needed claims Lincolnshire County Council leader

Senior county councillors have welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget announcements and look forward to seeing more details of the government’s long-term levelling up commitment.

Money.

Coun Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We welcome the measures included in the Budget, particularly the continued support for businesses, which is vital for recovery of the economy. However, it’s also good to see the chancellor setting out a sensible plan for the rebalancing of the public finances in the long-term.”

Coun Colin Davie, executive councillor for economy, said: “The extension to furlough payments will offer a further lifeline to many county businesses, as well as grants and tax breaks for those in leisure and tourism, and I recently wrote to the Chancellor in support of these initiatives. It’s vital that our sports, arts, leisure, personal care and hospitality industries continue to be supported while Covid restrictions are gradually lifted this year.

“I’m pleased that more will be done to support our High Streets which are in desperate need of investment, with re-start grants for retail businesses. The government has also re-affirmed its commitment to Town Deals for Skegness, Mablethorpe, Lincoln and Boston, and we will work with our district council colleagues in these areas, to ensure our High Streets can look to a more positive future.

“Reduced business rates and VAT cuts well into 2021 will be valuable to many. In the meantime, we have already taken action with our own grant schemes for small businesses that haven’t been eligible for government support– both to help them in the recovery and to help them grow and innovate for the future.

“Both the Humber and East Midlands Airport freeports will be incredibly important for our area and will make Greater Lincolnshire an even more attractive area for investment. Together with the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, the county council will play a lead role in unlocking this potential and pushing for and utilising government funding. We’ll be keen to explore the detail of the Levelling Up and UK Shared Prosperity funds as these are much-needed for our future growth.”

Lincolnshire-based estate agent, Pygott and Crone, which has branches in most towns in the county has welcomed the news that the stamp duty holiday will be extended.

A spokesman said: “This means that the pressure will be reduced on the backlog of sold properties that estate agents and conveyancers are working through to get to completion. We also feel that the Chancellor has made a sensible decision in gradually reducing the threshold, rather than reverting it to its previous amount prior to July 2020.

“For clarity, no stamp duty will be payable on any residential property purchase up to a value of £500,000 until June 30, 2021; this threshold is then being reduced to £250,000 for the period July 1 2021 to September 30 2021. As ever, stamp duty will be payable on property transactions of over £500,000, the rates are applied to the remaining portions of the value that exceed the threshold.”

They added: “The Chancellor has also announced a 95% mortgage guarantee scheme that will be available to all homebuyers in the UK to purchase a home valued up to £600,000 with a 5% deposit. This scheme will run from April 2021 until December 31 2022, and buyers will have the opportunity to fix the initial interest rate on their 95% repayment mortgage for a minimum of 5 years. Since the pandemic began, virtually all 95% mortgages disappeared from the market; therefore we think this is a positive step by the government to open up the housing market to a wider range of buyers, by increasing the availability of mortgages.

“The eligibility criteria is that the mortgage must be residential i.e. not a second home or buy-to-let. The mortgage must be taken out by an individual or individuals and have a loan-to-value of 91-95%. Standard affordability requirements still apply.

“Whilst the stamp duty extension in particular will help in the short term, it is important to maintain a sense of perspective, and we will continue to operate under the same guidelines, procedures, and standards that we have been since the pandemic started a year ago.”