BETTER than expected, economic news suggests that austerity may be coming to an end.

On Budget Day the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, was able to draw on several better-than-expected tax receipts to announce that austerity was “finally coming to an end”.

The upgraded forecasts for growth and lower government spending meant that Mr Hammond could inject funding into the NHS, as well as bring forward increases to income tax thresholds.

The decision to raise the Personal Allowance a year earlier than expected will boost disposable incomes to £12,500, and the Higher Rate Threshold to £50,000, all from April 2019.

Good news for tax payers!

The Chancellor’s third budget was also underpinned with the warning that should Brexit go wrong, the pain felt across the public sector will continue.

So, what is the outlook for the future of the UK economy?

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) have taken a more optimistic view of the UK economies potential, but not in the short-term.

They said the big picture was: “A relatively stable, but unspectacular trajectory for economic growth down from 1.6 per cent to 1.2 per cent”.

It’s worth pointing out that their forecasts are based on a smooth exit from the EU.

Employment levels are expected to remain high, but this is due to the rise in the number of older people working.

Interestingly, the property market is also continuing to change and adapt.

We are now seeing less homes in the UK being sold chain-free, now one in five (23 per cent), down from one in three in 2015 (32 per cent).

Chain-free sales are becoming increasingly rare with most homeowners in the UK reliant on the sale of their current home.

While in some cases owners might briefly choose to move into rented accommodation to help with the sale of their home, most look to find a buyer for their own home at the same time as buying a property for themselves.

Investors, who tend to buy chain-free, have bought fewer homes since the introduction of the stamp-duty surcharge on second homes in April 2016, and have played a significant part in contributing to the overall fall.

In June 2018, landlords bought 11 per cent of homes in Great Britain, down from 16 per cent three years ago.

For other homeowners, affordability has been stretched as house prices have risen faster than wages.

This has meant fewer buyers have had the luxury of moving without selling first.

All that said, the rise in the number of landlords selling-up due to tax and regulatory changes go a small way to counteract the fall in chain-free sales.

So far this year, landlords have made up 16 per cent of all vendors in Great Britain.

But even though these properties are now less likely to be snapped up by fellow investors, first-time buyers are stepping in, keeping the sale chain-free and most importantly, the property market moving forward.

Ian Street MRICS, associate director

Hamptons International, Cirencester