Scotland ‘lagging behind’ as Wales extends Help to Buy

Philip Hogg
Philip Hogg

Home buyers in Scotland are facing further disadvantage to those elsewhere in Britain after Wales announced its intention to extend its Help to Buy shared equity scheme, Homes for Scotland has warned.

The £170 million Help to Buy – Wales scheme, which makes home-ownership easier for people who have struggled to secure large cash deposits, has enabled 1,200 people buy their home and has received the backing of over 160 builders.

Setting out the Welsh Government’s intention to extend the scheme beyond 31 March 2016, communities and tackling poverty minister, Lesley Griffiths said the precise details of the extended scheme will depend on a number of factors, including the outcome of the next UK Government’s Spending Review, which will set the Welsh budget for 2016-17 and beyond.

Yesterday’s announcement came on the same day as new Scottish mortgage lending data revealing a progressive decline in lending across the last two quarters with the home building industry highlighting how this corresponded to 2014/15 funding for the Scottish Government’s version of Help to Buy running out last July.

Philip Hogg, chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, who are big proponents of the scheme, said a similar commitment in Scotland would increase the supply of new homes and also provide much needed confidence to buyers and developers.

He said: “Over 4,000 properties have been purchased through Help to Buy (Scotland) since it was launched, clearly demonstrating the strong aspirations Scots still have to own their own home as well as boosting construction and helping to tackle the country’s chronic undersupply of housing.

“But whilst buyers in the rest of Britain can take advantage of an extended and fully funded scheme to meet the demand that exists, those in Scotland are faced with the prospect that funds for the final round of 2015/16 investment could again become exhausted early due to high demand.

“The lending slowdown in the last six months of 2014 matches with our concerns regarding the impact the interruption in Help to Buy funding has had on the home building industry and our projections that total new housing output will have been chiefly flat over the last calendar year.

“With the need to ensure we have enough homes in the right locations to meet Scotland’s diverse housing needs fundamental to the first minister’s objective of improving opportunity for all, we therefore keenly await the next Scottish Government housing statistics which are due to be published shortly.”

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