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Week in Westminster - 4 August 2017

Week in Westminster

Published: 4 August 2017 | Author: Michelle Vosper

This week the Chancellor’s PPS has argued for a new Conservative vision of a “property owning democracy”; the Treasury Committee Chair has asked for the Prudential Regulatory Authority’s assessment on how prepared banks are for Brexit; and the Government is consulting on Codes of Practice to support enhanced legislative powers to recover the proceeds of crime and tackle money laundering.  More on this and other news below…


In an article in The Telegraph, PPS to Phillip Hammond Dr Kwasi Kwarteng MP proposed that the Conservative Party needs to adopt a “new vision of a property owning democracy”.

Some 45% of the 150,000 Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) claimants are retired mortgagors also claiming pension credit, according to a report published by the Department for Work and Pensions. The research examines why people are taking mortgages into retirement, and why they may rely on Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). The report findings will be used to inform the policy response to the increasing trend of mortgage borrowing into retirement, and the future development of SMI. The research provides strong support for the change of SMI into a loan taking place in April 2018.

The Government has published a summary of responses received in respect of its consultation on supporting an increase in Build to Rent across England. The key proposals included changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, and the provision of affordable private rent homes. The consultation also sought to promote the availability of longer tenancies (of 3 years or more) in build to rent accommodation, to those tenants who want one. The final Government policy response will be set out in the forthcoming National Planning Policy Framework revision. Housing Minister Alok Sharma MP announced £65 million of Government support for the UK’s largest development of homes built specifically for private rent.

Welsh Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant announced the suspension of the Right to Buy in Cardiff to ensure social housing stock continues to be available for those who need it. Legislation to abolish the Right to Buy across the whole of Wales is proceeding through the Assembly.

The Welsh Assembly’s Public Account Committee has published the report of its inquiry into how housing associations are regulated in Wales. The Committee found the governance and regulation of housing associations to be working well enough for them to be granted more autonomy. But in return, the Committee believes that their decision making should be more open and transparent.


Treasury Select Committee Chair Nicky Morgan MP has written to the Prudential Regulatory Authority’s CEO Sam Woods, requesting an update on how prepared banks and insurance firms are for Brexit. Ms Morgan has asked for an assessment of firms’ preparations for a no deal scenario, and views on the potential transitional arrangement with the EU after Brexit.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has warned that persistent uncertainty over the UK’s future relationship with the EU is holding back business investment and household spending. The Bank revised down its forecast for growth this year from 1.9% to 1.7%, and Mr Carney said that interest rates were likely to increase further over the next two years than market forecasts are suggesting.

Other Government announcements

The Home Office has announced a consultation on the Criminal Finances Act Codes of Practice. The Act which received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017 gives law enforcement agencies enhanced powers to recover the proceeds of crime and tackle money laundering. These Codes of Practice, which will support the new legislative changes, are subject to a 4-week consultation and further Parliamentary scrutiny.

As part of its Patient Capital Review, the Treasury is consulting on how to increase the supply of capital to growing innovative firms.