Could changes be made to the Help to Buy scheme?


After suggestions that the Government’s Help to Buy scheme may be ‘pared back’, there has been much discussion around the effect of the scheme.

In May 2014, the government announced that more than 27,000 people have bought a new home through the Help to Buy scheme since its introduction in March 2013.

Help to Buy allows a homebuyer to purchase a house priced up to £600,000 with a deposit of just 5%.

Originally, Help to Buy only applied to the purchase of new build properties. However, the Chancellor extended this to all houses under the £600,000 threshold in October 2013.

The average house purchase price during the first year of the scheme was around £160,000.

David Cameron has backed the scheme strongly. He stated that it was making ‘a difference to young people and others wanting to get on the housing ladder.â?

The Prime Minister added: ‘As Britons home ownership is in our blood ‘ it’s about aspiration, planning for the future and laying down roots.

‘Help to Buy has helped thousands of hardworking people to buy a new home and crucially it is helping to increase the number of new homes being built around the country.â?

Yet there are worries that the scheme may contribute to driving up prices in the housing market in London and the South East. House prices in London increased by 17% in the year to March. Despite this, the majority of the uptake in the scheme has been seen outside of London. Only 5% if Help to Buy mortgages were taken out in the capital.

This has led to calls from some to abandon or reduce the scheme in London and the South East. This would mean Help to Buy continuing in the north and the Midlands, where increases in house prices are much more sustainable.

Other suggestions have included reducing the £600,000 limit. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has stated that the maximum purchase price should be reduced to under £400,000.

The Shadow Chancellor encouraged moving focus away from Help to Buy and towards ‘help to buildâ?. This would focus on offering guarantees to small and medium sized building firms. He believes that offering this access to finance through the banks will encourage more building.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney stated that despite Help to Buy being a ‘relatively small programmeâ?, its potential growth ‘could change the attitudes in other parts of the mortgage marketâ?.

He maintains that the biggest issue within the housing market is the amount of new homes built.

Mr Carney, compared the situation to that in his home country of Canada, stating: ‘There are not sufficient houses built in the UK. There are half as many people in Canada as in the UK, yet twice as many houses are built every year in Canada as in the UK.â?

Last year, 112,630 houses were built in the UK; a 4% rise on the previous year. Many believe that more can and should be done to increase the number of new build properties.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg supported Mark Carney’s comments. He said: ‘I think if he says that we should pare back on some of the government schemes like Help to Buy then I think we should do so.

‘And he’s certainly right when he says of course the big long term problem is we simply don’t build enough homes in this country. We haven’t done so for years, we’re making progress now, but we need to do much more in the future.â?

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