A number of initiatives have recently been introduced to assist first time buyers in Northern Ireland. The Co-ownership scheme, which has, since 1978, assisted almost 20,000 mainly first time buyers to become home owners, was amended earlier this year to make it more accessible for people on lower incomes while the starting threshold for stamp duty on property was increased to £125,000. In addition an independent housing affordability review has been initiated. This will look at barriers affecting those seeking affordable housing in both owner occupied, social and private rented sectors and make recommendations as to how these might be overcome. A progress report will be completed in December and the final recommendations will be presented to Government next spring.