Government unveils details of £195m Help to Buy successor scheme

Alex Neil meets residents who have benefitted from Help to Buy
Alex Neil meets residents who have benefitted from Help to Buy

The Scottish Government has unveiled more details of its plans to spend £195 million over the next three years on a successor to the existing Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme.

Announced on Tuesday when first minister Nicola Sturgeon set out her government’s legislative programme for the last session of the Scottish Parliament before the 2016 elections, the new shared equity scheme aims to help around 6,500 households buy a new-build home.

The scheme will focus on affordable homes, with eligible buyers receiving an equity loan towards the purchase price of a new-build home.

There will also be on-going support for small developers, building on the success of the Small Developers scheme, launched in January.

With this new funding, and the Help to Buy scheme, the house-building industry will have received around half a billion pounds of support over a six-year period.

The Scottish Government will work with the house-building industry and lenders to agree on how the new scheme will operate. Further details will be announced following the UK government’s spending review in November.

Social justice secretary Alex Neil visited Pennywell in Edinburgh to meet families who have bought homes through the Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme.

Mr Neil said: “Making sure everyone in Scotland has access to good-quality housing is a vital part of the Scottish Government’s drive to secure economic growth, promote social justice, strengthen communities and tackle inequality.

“By targeting resources at affordable homes, the new scheme will widen access by providing a helping hand to individuals and families who wish to buy a new-build home.

“By the end of this new scheme, coupled with support through the current Help to Buy scheme, we will have helped around 14,000 households buy a new-build home.

“We will also reach our five-year plan of 30,000 affordable homes by March 2016 and our planned investment in affordable housing will exceed £1.7 billion.

“Conditions in the housing sector have continually improved under this government. We have seen sustained falls in homelessness and repossessions and a sixth successive annual fall in housing waiting lists.

“We have abolished the Right to Buy, protecting up to 15,500 social homes from sale over the next ten years, and thanks to our funding, councils are building new homes for the first time in 30 years.

“This considerable investment means that through Help to Buy and its successor, the Scottish Government will have invested around half a billion pounds over six years, providing the private sector and construction industry with a huge boost.”

Regeneration firm Urban Union Ltd, a joint venture between construction firms McTaggart Construction and Robertson Group (Holdings), has been appointed by the City of Edinburgh Council to build more than 700 affordable and private homes in Pennywell.

Graeme Nicol, managing director, Urban Union Ltd, said: “We welcome the news that Help to Buy is continuing through a new shared equity scheme.

“Help to Buy has been incredibly popular – the majority of buyers at our developments at Pennywell in Edinburgh and Laurieston in Glasgow received funding through this scheme.

“Urban Union is committed to delivering affordable homes and the continuation of support, focusing on the affordable housing market, is a much needed and welcome boost for people who need it most.”

City of Edinburgh Council housing leader, Councillor Cammy Day, said: “I welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to help more people buy affordable, energy efficient homes.

“Increasing housing costs in Edinburgh have priced many people out of the private ownership market, making it impossible for them to get on the property ladder.

“I hope that today’s announcement means more people in Edinburgh will benefit from the Help to Buy scheme and also means that we will be able to take forward more projects like Pennywell, which has played a vital role in regeneration of the local area.”

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