Restart Help to Buy to support first-time homeowners, Tories urge

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government ended two key programmes for first-time buyers.

Restart Help to Buy to support first-time homeowners, Tories urge iStock

The Scottish Government has been urged to help first-time buyers as house prices soar, with calls for the Help to Buy scheme to be reopened.

House prices in Scotland have risen on average by 17% between March 2020 and August 2021 – from £174,907 to £204,176.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government ended two key programmes for first-time buyers – the affordable new build Help to Buy scheme and the First Home Fund.

The smaller developer portion of the Help to Buy scheme remains open until the end of this financial year.

The Scottish Tories have now called for the full scheme to be restored, home building to be ramped up with a greater emphasis on affordable newbuilds, and for the threshold for land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) – Scotland’s version of stamp duty – to be increased to £250,000.

The party’s housing spokesman Miles Briggs also called for a pilot scheme to be established in Edinburgh which would allow first-time buyers to own a share of a property in the city, where the average home costs more than £300,000.

He said: “More and more potential first-time buyers across Scotland are being edged out of the market as prices sky-rocket. However, the SNP have closed off crucial supply lines of support that were previously available to them.

“The SNP have also resoundingly failed to meet their promises on building enough affordable homes. They are simply not on the side of first-time buyers and that must change now.

“Over the course of this Parliament, first-time buyers must be at the heart of our housebuilding strategy.

“Ministers should immediately restore the Help to Buy scheme in full and raise the threshold for first-time buyers as to when they have to pay land transaction taxes.”

Briggs went on to say that a generation of first-time buyers are being “left behind” by the Scottish Government.

“Young Scots are missing out on the chance to own their own home as Nicola Sturgeon denies them the same opportunities available south of the border,” he said.

“The SNP have the money available to them from the UK Government to go further and faster in their housebuilding programme.

“The Scottish Conservatives are today setting out a real plan to support first-time buyers.

“It is time the SNP stopped putting a handbrake on so many individuals and families’ dream of home ownership.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As we set out in our Housing to 2040 strategy, and in line with our Net Zero targets, we are shifting our focus to helping people renovate, adapt or improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

“We continue to support home ownership and have schemes in place to help first time buyers through our LIFT scheme which helps people on low to moderate incomes to buy their first home.

“Our first-time buyer relief for Land and Buildings Transaction Tax means that an estimated eight out of ten first-time buyers will pay no tax at all.

“Scotland continues to be a great place to buy a first home, with the average first-time buyer spending almost £90,000 less for a property than those in England.

“This has been borne out by figures from the mortgage industry which show a strong increase in mortgage approvals for first-time buyers in Scotland.”

The Scottish Government said it has delivered more than 103,000 affordable homes since 2007 and will commit to provide a further 110,000 by 2032.

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