The controversial Help To Buy scheme looks likely to be expanded in breadth and extended in duration to help kick-start the housebuilding industry after the lockdown.
Currently the scheme helps buyers of new build homes with an equity loan worth 20 per cent of the value of a property; it is due to be phased out between spring 2021 and 2023.
It’s been widely reported that the housebuilding industry and its trade bodies have told the government they fear a long-term slowdown will impact on new build volumes; Savills estimates that work has stopped on sites which could accommodate some 200,000 new homes.
Meanwhile the former head of the civil service and permanent secretary at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government is also urging Whitehall to beef up Help to Buy.
Lord Kerslake told the Housing Today magazine: “I think the challenge is going to be to restore confidence after what has been a big health and economic shock. The sort of things you’ll be looking for is where the government can give confidence to the market, particularly on build for sale, with things like Help to Buy… I think they should at least be putting it on the list of things to be talking about.”
Help To Buy has had a mixed reception in the months leading up to the virus outbreak, with critics suggesting that many of its buyers did not need the financial assistance it gave, and that the single biggest effect of the scheme was to inflate the stock market value and profits of many of the country’s largest housebuilders.
Supporters say it has helped large numbers of purchasers – the majority of them first time buyers – on to the ladder in better quality homes than they would have bought without the intervention.