This week, the Conservative Party hosted their Autumn Conference, setting out their pledges for the next general election. Where do landlords fit into their plans, and what has the Party promised?
Over the past few days, the Conservative Party has been in Manchester for its 2023 Autumn Conference, likely the last one before the next election. While much of the focus has been centred around the rumoured plans to scrap parts of the HS2 railway, there are some details for landlords to take away from the Conference.
Potential Cuts to Corporation Tax
At a fringe event, former prime minister Liz Truss called for tax cuts in a bid to “make Britain grow again”.
Truss urged her fellow members to “unleash their inner conservative”, calling on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to return to her mini-budget plans of cutting corporation tax to at least 19% across the board.
In the wake of the mini-budget, Hunt quickly rectified most of Truss’ plans to stabilise the money markets and the economy. Despite Truss’ rallying, Hunt remains strong in his position that now is not the time for tax cuts.
In recent interviews, Hunt confronts the current tax issues facing both households and businesses alike. However, it may not be the answer everyone is looking for.
Hunt has already ruled out tax cuts in the Autumn Statement, having predicted that “taxes were more likely to rise than fall” unless the government could find a way to improve growth. Instead, bringing down inflation remains his priority as we approach 2024.
With the Autumn Statement taking place on the 22nd of November, landlords will be hoping to see changes to Capital Gains Tax, which should incentivise further investment into the sector. However, nothing has been hinted at as of yet, but we will let you know should we hear more.
Michael Gove’s Conference Talk
Michael Gove also made a speech at the Conference. Following his controversial Renters’ Reform Bill, many industry experts had expected him to comment on the Bill and the wider issues facing the Private Rental Sector. However, the speech fell short of any real clarification of his plans for landlords or how his department would support the market.
Gove did claim the party was still “on track to deliver a million new homes in this government” and reaffirmed the Conservative’s pledge to only build on Brownfield sites. He also noted the government will be focusing on making these homes energy-efficient with “zero emissions”.
Having just scrapped the proposed changes to minimum EPC requirements for buy to let properties, it’s interesting to see the Conservatives prioritising green new-build homes. This perhaps reinforces many experts' views that abandoning the EPC changes does not mark the end of the green agenda for the buy to let sector.
The Impact of De-Railing HS2
Following days of speculation and political question-dodging, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that the HS2 project will no longer build a new track between Birmingham and Manchester due to spiralling costs. Instead, the high-speed link will run on existing tracks between the cities.
The project intended to level up the North-South divide and help economies in Northern cities expand further. Although places like Manchester are still growing considerably faster than other areas, this decision could have a significant impact on wider investment plans for the area, including house building and other supporting infrastructure.
What’s Next for Landlords?
The Conference has arguably been underwhelming for landlords and the private rental sector. From Gove, little was presented as plans to boost the sector should Conservatives win the next general election. While many landlords are relieved that the government abandoned its EPC proposals, more clarity is needed on what will be expected from landlords to help meet the net-zero target.
Next week, the Labour Party Conference will be taking place in Liverpool, and the sector eagerly awaits to see if more is said here regarding the future for buy to let under Labour leadership.
4th October 2023