Rishi Sunak promises to relaunch Help to Buy scheme

Rishi Sunak has unveiled plans to launch a “new and improved” Help to Buy scheme which aims to give people in England a hand with raising deposits to buy their first home. The prime minister has said he would also permanently abolish stamp duty for first-time buyers on homes up to £425,000, if he wins the general election.
The Conservative manifesto – setting out the party’s policy priorities for government – also includes a target of 1.6 million new homes over five years, slightly more than Labour is promising.

Mr Sunak also committed the Conservatives to continuing its mortgage guarantee scheme, matching Labour’s pledge to do so. For renters, the Tories say they would ban no-fault evictions, something they first promised to do at the 2019 general election. Landlords would also not have to pay tax on profits when selling properties to tenants, under Tory plans. Mr Sunak says this will give tenants “a chance to own the home they live in”, but landlord groups say this will not address shortages in homes available to let.

Opposition parties have seized on Mr Sunak’s admission during a BBC interview on Monday that it has become harder for people to own their own homes since the Conservatives have been in office. Unveiling the Conservative manifesto at Silverstone race track, he said the new Help to Buy scheme would “get a new generation onto the property ladder”. The scheme would provide first-time buyers with an equity loan of up to 20% towards the cost of a new-build home. This will allow them to get buy a first home with a 5% deposit, according to the manifesto.

The scheme would last three years, with developers contributing towards loan costs and no interest on the government loan for the first five years. The Times reports that the scheme would be available for purchases under £400,000. Hundreds of thousands of people have been bought through the Help to Buy scheme since it was launched in 2013 – although it has also been criticised as the “crack cocaine of the building industry,” and blamed for pushing up house prices. The original scheme ended in March 2023 for England, although first-time buyers can still apply for loans under it in Wales.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the New Help to Buy Scheme could help potential homebuyers get on the property ladder by reducing deposits and making payments more manageable in the short term. But the think tank also warned that it was a subsidy for the housing market that in the past had led to higher house prices and profits for developers – and that “some who buy would be able to do so without the scheme”. Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: “Help to Buy has been proven to do more harm to our housing system than good. Not only does it drive up house prices and help only a small minority of people, it ultimately takes money away from building genuinely affordable housing.

Nathan Emerson, chief executive at property professionals’ body Propertymark said: “Ultimately, we need a fully robust supply of new sustainable housing that is keeping pace with an ever-growing demand

Source: BBC

In other news – Scottish party leaders clash on cost-of-living and NHS

The leaders of Scotland’s main political parties have gone head-to-head on the cost-of-living crisis and NHS waiting times during a BBC Scotland debate. First Minister John Swinney accused Labour and the Conservatives of “not being straight with voters” about £18bn of spending cuts.

Scottish party leaders


Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said there will be “unequivocally no austerity under a Labour government. Read more

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