Builders lobby for ex­ten­sion to sub­si­dies for house buy­ers

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Rachel Mil­lard

HOUS­ING chiefs are push­ing for an ex­ten­sion to the Help to Buy sub­sidy scheme amid con­cerns that thou­sands of home hun­ters could miss out due to de­lays caused by coro­n­avirus.

The clo­sure of build­ing sites dur­ing lock­down means many homes will not be fin­ished by a De­cem­ber dead­line for sales to be agreed.

The Home Builders Fed­er­a­tion es­ti­mates that it could af­fect 18,000 homes, with about 40pc of these – more than 7,000 in to­tal – un­likely to be el­i­gi­ble for a new, more re­stricted ver­sion of the scheme due to come into force next April. Any sales agreed in the new year must qual­ify un­der the tighter cri­te­ria.

In­tro­duced in 2013, Help to Buy pro­vides tax­payer loans to help cus­tomers af­ford new-build homes. From April it will be avail­able to first-time buy­ers only and sub­ject to re­gional prop­erty price caps. It will end in 2023.

House­builders want the cur­rent, more re­laxed scheme to be ex­tended so buy­ers do not lose out. It would also be a boon as the in­dus­try strug­gles to recover from the pan­demic, but could spark crit­i­cism from cam­paign­ers who claim tax­payer money flows di­rectly to bosses and in­vestors in build­ing firms.

David O’Leary, pol­icy di­rec­tor at the Home Builders Fed­er­a­tion, said: “As a re­sult of in­flex­i­bil­ity of the rules, thou­sands of home buy­ers look likely to miss out on the op­por­tu­nity to use Help to Buy and so be able to pur­chase a new home.”

A spokesman for the Min­istry of Hous­ing, Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment said the scheme had helped more than 272,000 buy­ers. He added: “The Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to work closely with all parts of the hous­ing in­dus­try to un­der­stand the chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties they face.”

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