Builders lobby for extension to subsidies for house buyers
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.”