Labour pledges £3,000 boost for first time buyers

Kezia Dugdale
Kezia Dugdale

First time buyers will be given £3,000 towards the purchase of a property under new plans unveiled by Scottish Labour.

In her first manifesto pledge ahead of May’s Holyrood elections, leader Kezia Dugdale has pledged to double the £3,000 currently available to anyone saving for a deposit through a first-time buyer ISA.

Ms Dugdale said the move would allow a couple saving £100 each a month to save for a £15,000 deposit within three years.

The party said 28 per cent of those aged 16-34 in Scotland now own their home with a mortgage - the lowest level since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999.

And it said the number of people aged 34 and younger who have bought their own home with a mortgage has fallen by 15 per cent since the SNP came to power in 2007.

The party plans to pay for the policy using money from Air Passenger Duty (APD), to be devolved to Holyrood.

It has costed the proposal at £103 million a year - less than the £125 million it will cost the SNP to cut APD by 50 per cent when a Scottish replacement is introduced in April 2018.

In a speech announcing the policy in Edinburgh, Ms Dugdale is expected to say the deposit boost would be “not just a break from austerity for my generation, but a boost for aspiration”.

“We previously set out different tax choices from both the Tories and the SNP, which we would have used to restore the money lost from tax credit cuts,” she will say.

“Labour’s victory over the Tories, and Osborne’s retreat on this issue, means that those revenue raisers can be used for a more positive purpose.

“Austerity has meant years of cuts to services for the public sector, it has meant higher costs of living for families but it has also meant people making compromises, lowering their expectations about what life should bring them.

“So far the debate about austerity has been about how we reverse those cuts and costs, I want it to also be about how we reverse those compromises, how we can return to an economy where people can expect more in life.

“Ambition and aspiration are Labour values. We begin to reclaim them today.”

Responding to Ms Dugdale, the Scottish Government said that first time buyers are rising as the country leaves behind the recession, with the latest figures showing a 4 per cent increase in the last quarter and a 16 per cent increase in the last year.

It also said it had helped 20,000 move on to, or up, the property ladder since 2007 through its shared equity schemes and Help to Buy programme.

Social justice secretary Alex Neil said: “Through some of the toughest times in the recession we have helped young home owners the most with nearly 75 per cent of those benefitting from our schemes aged between 18 and 35.”

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