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 the 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 value. Hopefully common sense will prevail although this appears to be in short supply at Commision HQ in Brussels.
In any event the UK looks forward to establishing and renewing our own connections across the globe, less bureaucratic regulation and a much improved (restored) democratic process. No unelected Commission to dictate policies, 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 stepping up preparations for a hard exit. Outside the EU we will rely on World Trade Organisation rules which is how we already conduct most trade outside the EU and 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 the government has a 5 year mandate (with the support of the DUP). UK economic growth continues at a healthy rate, some 1.9% in 2017. First quarter 2018 slowed to 0.2%, due to severe weather but has recovered strongly in Quarters 2 and 3. Overall it continues much in line with pre-Brexit years.
Significantly, outside the EU, we shall have the ability to establish greater trade links across the entire world, source cheaper supplies and enjoy the many trading and business benefits that will emerge. The EU will meanwhile struggle on for a while yet with its economic problems, its focus on "ever closer political union as dictated by the Commissioners" and a dysfunctional currency causing major difficulties for those locked into the Euro.
Housing Policy and Downsizing: A main objective of government in stimulating the economy is housebuilding. In England this is now reaching more than 200,000 new homes each year (184,000 new homes built from scratch and a trotal of 217,000 homes when including conversions). The Communities Minister has stated that the government house building programme will "breathe new life back into High Streets and abandoned shopping centres". There will be a "de facto" presumption in favour of building on brownfield land in planning rules. We can 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. A stamp duty incentive to downsizing would also have the added benefit of freeing up larger homes for the following generations. Indeed punitive levels of stamp duty are gumming up the works throughout the housing market, slowing activity at a time when everyone wants to see growth.
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 and other purposes. It is in fact a brake on economic activity. The Chancellor made some allowance in tax rates for first time buyers in last November's budget and it would be encouraging to see further very significant cuts taking place in the coming 2018 budget.