Scottish Labour to consider targeted replacement for Help to Buy

Scottish Labour to consider targeted replacement for Help to Buy

Pauline McNeill

A report from Scottish Labour’s Housing Commission has recommended the party scrap and replace Help to Buy with a more targeted scheme to help first time buyers of lower incomes.

Labour said the heavily criticised scheme has been handing state support to households on over £100,000 per year to buy a property. The mean household income of those participating in the scheme in 2016/17 was £41,000, while the average household income in Scotland is around £25,000.

The progress report from Scottish Labour’s Housing Commission recommends scrapping and replacing Help to Buy with a scheme exclusively targeted at first time buyers, that allows them to buy existing homes as well as new builds with a 5% deposit.

It suggested that funding should be switched into a substantially re-designed ‘First Buy Scotland Scheme’ which will see government provide up to 35% of the cost in the form of a shared-equity agreement repayable to government at the sale of the property.

Labour will consider the policy alongside existing pledges to build 12,000 homes for social rent a year, and cap private rents through a Mary Barbour law, as part of Labour’s plan to end the housing crisis.

Labour shadow cabinet secretary for equalities and housing, Pauline McNeill, said: “Help to Buy isn’t helping enough working class young people, and is increasingly just a windfall for chief executives of housing companies.

“In Scotland getting a foot on the housing ladder is harder than ever for young people. Too many people on lower incomes are caught in a vicious cycle – they can’t afford a deposit or access social housing so they rent while they save money but the rent is so high they never put the money away.

“Whether a person can afford to buy a home or not is a substantial driver of capital inequality.

“Labour will make ending the housing crisis our priority in government, with more homes for social rent, real and radical reforms to the private rented sector. We’ll look at finding low cost ways  to home ownership by scrapping help to buy and replace it with a scheme targeted exclusively a first time buyers.”

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