Help to Buy could return as Tories try to woo first-time buyers

Kate Devlin  – Politics and Whitehall Editor

May 1 2023 – Independent PremiumUK news

Rishi Sunak is considering plans to help first-time buyers as housing becomes a key issue ahead of the next general election.

Proposals to help convert thousands of members of ‘generation rent’ into owners, against a backdrop of rising interest rates and high prices, are being looked at, reported The Times.

It comes after the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he wanted to make Labour the party of home ownership.

That “dream” had been “killed” for too many by a prime minister whose MPs were worried about building in their own political backyards, he suggested.

Sir Keir also said that first-time buyers could be given “first dibs on developments” to help those struggling to get on the property ladder.

It is thought an announcement from the government on more help for new buyers could come in the autumn statement later this year.

But a government source said they never commented on future fiscal events.

The Times reported that the proposals being examined included resurrecting Help to Buy, the controversial scheme launched by George Osborne in 2013 but closed to new entrants last year.

Critics say it pushed up house prices, making it harder for some to get on the ladder.

The average age of a first-time buyer has risen from 31 in 2010, when the Conservatives came to power, to 33 last year.

Lisa Nandy, the shadow housing secretary, said: “Rishi Sunak abandoned a whole generation of young people aspiring to own their own home. It isn’t right that hardworking young people are being priced out of their areas, squeezed by rents, and having their ambition to buy a house taken from them.”

A government spokesperson said that supporting aspiring homeowners was a “government priority”.

“Over 400,000 first-time buyers have been helped into home ownership since spring 2010 through government-backed schemes including Help to Buy and Right to Buy.

“We are committed to delivering 300,000 new homes per year and are investing £11.5 billion to build the affordable, quality homes this country needs.”