Leaving the European Union: Over the next few weeks and months we look to finalise an agreement on departure terms with the Commission. This would be to the advantage of many European exporters to the UK as well as to UK exporters into Europe. Indeed the EU has a huge (£88bn) trade surplus on goods with the UK which they will value. Hopefully common sense will prevail although this seems to be in short supply at Commission Headquarters in Brussels.
In any event the UK looks forward to renewing trading connections and establishing new agreements across the globe with less bureaucratic regulation and a much improved (restored) democratic process. No unelected commission to dictate policies and no European Court of Justice to rule above our own courts. It begins to look as though the EU will not agree acceptable terms with the UK and we are preparing for a hard exit. Outside the EU we will rely on World Trade Organisation rules which is how most of our trade in the rest of the world is already conducted. This involves relatively low reciprocal tariffs. Such trade is growing, represents most of our exports and generates a surplus. Our revamped customs service should be ready as from January to cope with the extra checks that will be necessary.
UK Business taxes are low and we have an elected government, supported by the DUP with a 5 year term to run. UK economic growth has continued at a healthy rate, some 1.9% in 2017. There is full employment and although the first quarter of 2018 saw economic growth slow to 0.2% due to severe weather conditions this has recovered strongly in Quarter 2 . Overall it continues much in line with pre-Brexit years.
Significantly, outside the EU we will have the ability to establish greater trade links across the entire globe, source cheaper supplies and enjoy the many trading and business benefits that will emerge. The European Union will meanwhile struggle on for a while yet with its economic problems, the Commission focus on "ever closer political union" and a dysfunctional Euro currency causing major difficulties for those locked into the Euro.
Housing Policy and Downsizing.
A main objective of government in stimulating the economy is house building. In England this is now running at around 200,000 new homes a year with 184,000 new homes built from scratch in 2017 and a total of 217,000 with the inclusion of conversions. The Communities Minister has recently stated that the government housebuilding programme will "breathe new life into High Streets and abandoned shopping centres". There will be a new "de facto" presumption in favour of building on brownfield land in planning rules. We hope that developers will now be able to look forward to the planning process being far less stressful and unpredictable. Certainly planning barriers must be eased and development encouraged, An area of particular neglect is the building of suitable quality homes to suit the needs of the increasing number of "baby boomers" who are now entering their 60's and 70's and wanting to downsize. These properties are in short supply. A stamp duty incentive to downsizing would have the added benefit of freeing up these larger homes for the following generations. Indeed a significant reduction in stamp duty across the board would breathe life into a currently slow market.
Stamp Duty and transaction volumes:
This tax imposition remains at punishing levels and deters house buying and the mobility of the population when considering relocation for work or other purposes. It is in fact a brake on economic activity. The Chancellor made some adjustment in favour of first time buyers in last November's budget. Further reductions across the board would be very beneficial in this year's autumn Budget.