3. Which Department is responsible for promoting in Scotland the UK Government’s policies on supporting home buyers; and if he will make a statement. (160886)
The Government are providing wide-ranging support to help people buy their homes. That support includes the UK-wide Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme, which is led by the Treasury and opens in January 2014. The Treasury has also worked with the Bank of England to implement the funding for lending scheme.
Next year, home buyers in Scotland will have the opportunity to access the Scottish Government’s shared equity scheme, the Scottish Government’s mortgage guarantee scheme and the UK Government’s mortgage guarantee scheme. That may sound like a surfeit of riches, but it is leading to confusion, even now, about the best way to access these schemes. Why do the Government not take more action to ensure that there is a close relationship between what the Scottish Government are doing and what the UK Government are doing to make sure that the benefits of these schemes do not go to second home buyers, buying houses of up to £600,000 a year, as the people who need them are first home buyers and people on modest incomes?
The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that we are working closely with the Scottish Government in relation to their equity scheme, which is equivalent to, but not the same as, the equity loan scheme available in England. The Home to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme will be available in Scotland, and we are working with the Scottish Government to ensure that there is a communications plan so that potential home buyers in Scotland fully understand how all the schemes work and how they relate to each other.
As my hon. Friend has just pointed out, the capital limit on the mortgage guarantee scheme of the UK Government is £600,000. This is hardly designed for those on low and modest incomes. Would the money not be better spent on providing social housing, which is badly needed across Scotland?
I would have thought that the hon. Lady would welcome the 10% increase in loans to first-time buyers in Scotland in the first quarter of 2012. The limit of the scheme reflects house prices across the United Kingdom, and I believe that it is fair and equitable.