Mixed response to Labour’s first time buyer plan

Scottish Labour’s pledge to give first time buyers £3,000 towards the purchase of a property have been welcomed by the home building industry while the SNP has warned it may push up house prices.

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale set out plans to help people on to the property ladder in her first manifesto pledge ahead of the Holyrood election in May.

Under Ms Dugdale’s proposal, first-time buyers who save for a deposit using the UK government’s existing Help to Buy ISA scheme will be entitled to an additional £3,000 from a Scottish Labour government.

Industry body Homes for Scotland has welcomed the importance being attached to home ownership by the Scottish Labour Party.

Philip Hogg
Philip Hogg

Philip Hogg, chief executive, said: “This plan is a positive signal that the Scottish Labour Party recognises the need for an all tenure approach to tackle our country’s housing crisis and helps widen the debate beyond what has been an increasing and narrow focus on “affordable” homes.

“Indeed, with research confirming that the majority of Scots aspire to be home owners, such an approach is vital if we are to meet the diverse needs of all those living in Scotland. We therefore welcome Kezia Dugdale’s comment that home ownership should be open to all who work for it.

“But whilst this may provide a much-needed boost for FTBs looking to get onto the housing ladder, the fact remains that the number of new homes being built is still 40 per cent down on 2007 levels. We are simply not building enough to house our growing population so any savings initiatives must be matched by those which stimulate production such as the popular Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme. This is essential if we are to meet increasing demand and provide the range of quality options required.

“That is why we are calling on the next Scottish Government to manage a return to pre-recession levels of building which would mean at least 100,000 new homes by the end of the next parliamentary term. We will therefore be carefully scrutinising all parties’ policies to gauge whether these would sufficiently support the development industry to build the many thousands of homes which are desperately required the length and breadth of the country.

“With the First Minister taking the opportunity today to set out her plans to grow Scotland’s economy, the wide-ranging social and economic benefits provided by housing will have an intrinsic role to play in meeting these objectives.”

Clare Adamson
Clare Adamson

But SNP MSP Clare Adamson said: “This is a policy that is likely to push up house prices and which will therefore be counter-productive, while not providing a single new home.

“Our focus has been on boosting housing supply in both the private sector and the social sector - and on practical measures to help first-time buyers and other home owners.

“That’s why we’ve started a new generation of council house building across Scotland, building over 6,000 council houses compared to Labour’s paltry six in office, have exceeded our affordable 30,000 house-building target this term, and aim to provide an additional 50,000 affordable homes in the next Parliament - an ambitious commitment that Labour have failed to match.

“Through our policies like Help to Buy and shared equity schemes, we are providing direct help to thousands of home buyers every year benefiting over 20,000 households into home ownership - three quarters of them under 35.”

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