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Yesterday’s Queens Speech set out the new governments plans for a number of legislation reforms. In the first all Conservative Queen’s speech since 1996 the government stayed true to their election promises for the housing sector. As well as setting out the government’s plans for an all new Right-to-Buy scheme the speech referred to plans to build 20,000 new homes to be offered to under 40’s at a 20% discount. These plans sound promising but what do they mean for you and have they gone far enough?

Extension of the Right-to-Buy scheme

Right-to-Buy is nothing new. The present Right-to-Buy scheme was introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1980, and successive governments have made changes to the scheme. David Cameron’s addition to Right-to-Buy will now mean that housing association tenants are eligible to buy their home at a discount as well as Council tenants.

The government has estimated that around 1.5 million people will be eligible to buy their home at a discount through the scheme. Discounts start at 35% for a house and 50% for a flat and will increases depending on how long the tenant has been a resident of the property.

Local authorities will be required to build a property for every property sold but whilst this is already the case with the existing Right-to-Buy scheme only 46% of homes sold under the scheme have been replaced.

Whilst many may welcome the new changes to Right-to-Buy it is significant that the Scottish and Welsh government have not chosen to adopt the scheme preferring to keep hold of social housing stock. Opponents of the scheme have also questioned whether this will leave England with a huge shortage of social housing stock, they point to the current shortage of houses built to replace those sold and suggest that unless more land is made available for local authorities to build on the scheme will be unsuccesful.

Starter Homes Scheme

The starter homes scheme promises 200,000 new homes for under 40’s at a 20% discount. Builders will create homes that according to the scheme will only be available for purchase by first time buyers. To register for the scheme and receive information about developments near you go to http://www.new-homes.co.uk/starter-homes/

Detractors have raised questions over whether these discounts will represent real savings for buyers. These properties are new and so never offered for sale before, the government have not yet made it clear how they will determine their market value and so apply the relevant discount.

Right to Build

In a bid to increase and diversify housing supply the government also plan to give people the right to be allocated land with planning permission for them to self-build or commission a local builder to construct a property.
This scheme is very successful in many other countries and, it is hoped, will provide a boost to smaller construction companies and independent tradesmen.

Statutory register for brownfield land

Closely linked to the right to build will be a new register of brownfield sites which will help to fast track planning applications for the construction of new homes near to existing communities.

The aims of the bill are laudable. In its own words the bill seeks to ‘support home ownership, increase housing supply and help provide more working people with the chance to own their own home,’ but more work needs to be done to secure a stable housing market in the future. One clear problem is the slow growth of housing stock.
Whilst this bill goes some way towards providing much needed new homes, more work needs to be done by this, and successive governments, to ensure that the supply of housing is able to meet an ever increasing demand. High loan to value lending to first time buyers, known as the Help to Buy scheme, has helped many of our existing clients take their first step on the housing ladder and we hope this, or a similar scheme, will be maintained. 

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