What will the Conservative Government mean for housing?
The dust has settled on the election, with the SNP an overall winner for Scotland, but Conservatives the national stand-out.
We already took a general look at what each party had to say about housing in our manifesto blog, but here we take a more in-depth view into what the Conservatives have planned for the housing market – from Help to Buy to house building.
The main ambition given by the Conservatives in their manifesto is to double the number of first-time buyers compared to the past five years and allow over one million people to buy their own homes.
Plans for this include the building of 200,000 quality starter homes over the course of the next Parliament, reserved for first-time buyers under 40 and sold at 20 per cent below the market price. There are also plans to offer 10,000 new homes to rent at below market rates, to help people save for a deposit.
Part of this plan includes the extension of the Help to Buy scheme to cover another 120,000 homes – in total helping over 200,000 people.
Another part of the plan to help first time buyers, as announced during the March budget, was the creation of Help to Buy ISA, to support those who are working hard to save up for a deposit for their first home. A ten per cent deposit on the average first home costs £15,000, so if you put in up to £12,000, the government will put in up to £3,000 more. This 25 per cent top-up is equivalent to saving a deposit from your pre-tax income – making it effectively a tax cut for first-time buyers.
Renters could also benefit if the Tories stick to everything in their manifesto, in particular renters in Housing Association properties.
The Conservatives have promised an extension of Right to Buy that will see renters able to buy the property they live in, with the government to fund the replacement of properties sold under the extended Right to Buy by requiring local authorities to manage their housing assets more efficiently, with the most expensive properties sold off and replaced as they fall vacant.
Part of the Right to Buy move will see the creation of a Brownfield Fund to unlock homes on brownfield land for additional housing.
And this isn’t the only plan for brownfield land. The Conservatives have promised to fund Housing Zones to transform brownfield sites into new housing, which will create 95,000 new homes, with plans to ensure that 90 per cent of suitable brownfield sites have planning permission for housing by 2020.
So far, so good, right? More housing, less costs for first time buyers and the right for more renters to buy. One problem lies with this: although the Help to Buy scheme and the new Help to Buy ISA will help Scottish first time buyers, it’s not clear just how many of these extra houses will be built in Scotland.
The truth will be discovered over the next five years.