£150m scheme to provide deposit support for struggling first-time buyers

The Scottish Government is to create a £150 million national pilot scheme to provide support for first-time buyers and has also launched a consultation of short-term lets.

Under the scheme, which will be launched later this year, buyers will be required to fund a minimum of 5% of the value of their new house from their own funds and loans can be up to £25,000.

£150m scheme to provide deposit support for struggling first-time buyers

The loan will be secured on the equity of the home; is repayable in full at any time; and must be repaid if the home is sold. No monthly payments will therefore apply.

The initiative is part of a package of measures unveiled by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon which aims to ensure the housing market is fairer and delivers more people the homes they want.

In a further part of the package, oversupply of short-term lets will be tackled in order to protect the interests of local communities and ensure a safe, quality experience for visitors, with new proposals published for consultation.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We want to help people find places to live in the communities they want to call home.

“Some first time buyers trying to get onto the property ladder can call on the financial help of relatives or friends – the famous bank of mum and dad. But for too many, the simple truth is that, even on decent incomes, saving for a deposit takes so long it has become a distant dream.

“Many are even paying more in rent than they would pay for a mortgage and the simple fact is they don’t have the money left at the end of the month to save for a deposit.

“In a fair and equitable country that cannot stand. And so we will act. We will help young people with the deposits they need.

“If buyers can find just 5% of the value of their new house from their own funds, we will do the rest. Starting later this year we will pilot a scheme to offer first-time buyers loans of up to £25,000 to fund or top up their deposit.”

The consultation will seek views on the appropriate use of planning, health and safety, regulation and taxation powers in order to ensure local authorities can secure an appropriate balance between the needs of communities and the role of short-term lets as part of Scotland’s tourism industry.

The 2018 Programme for Government made a commitment to ensure that local authorities have appropriate regulatory powers to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests. The consultation asks for views on what those powers should be.

Revealing the new proposals on short-term lets, the First Minister said: “For many people, short-term lets have enabled cheaper, more flexible travel. It’s one of the reasons Scotland’s tourism industry is booming. But for others – particularly in tourist hot spots – it is making it harder to find homes to live in.

“We are asking for views on a new system of regulation to make short term lets subject to the same controls as other accommodation. And give councils the power to control the number of lets and ensure they make a contribution to the services they use.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “We understand the need in some parts of the country for new controls over short-term letting of residential properties and we believe there is a case to take action.

“We are committed to working with local authorities to allow them to balance the unique needs of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests.

“As part of identifying the best solution we want to ask communities, landlords, local authorities and businesses across Scotland how councils can best use their planning, health and safety and regulatory powers to support local communities, whether further powers are required – and how we can ensure that short term lets are making an appropriate contribution to local services.

“We will also conduct further research to explore the direct effects of short-term lets on communities, neighbourhoods and housing supply across Scotland.”

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