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Savings and Home Ownership

Volume 603: debated on Tuesday 1 December 2015

This Government back saving and home ownership. That support is exemplified by the Help to Buy ISA that becomes available today. This new ISA provides direct Government support to anyone saving for the deposit on their first home. For every £200 they save in the ISA, the Government will help them with another £50. Add it up and the Government will give them up to £3,000 towards their first home—all part of a plan to help working people in this country.

One of the best ways to help people build up their savings so that they can get a Help to Buy ISA and buy their own home is to make sure that they have good jobs with good wages. What steps will my right hon. Friend take to drive employment in my constituency, which has historically low unemployment, and across the midlands engine?

I was in the west midlands yesterday seeing the fantastic investment that Jaguar Land Rover is making there, with Government help. Alongside that we are investing in the west midlands infrastructure. We have just signed an agreement with the authorities of the west midlands, across the political parties, to put more than £1 billion into the region over the next couple of decades. There is a long-term commitment to the midlands engine and the jobs in my hon. Friend’s constituency.

It was reported in one of my local papers last month that some areas in Cornwall have seen a 15% rise in house prices over the past year. Will my right hon. Friend outline what additional action is being taken to assist first-time buyers in beautiful parts of the country, such as Cornwall, that are popular with second-home owners? What difference will the increase in stamp duty make?

My hon. Friend always speaks passionately on behalf of her constituents—in this case, those seeking to buy their first home. The Help to Buy ISA is, of course, available in Cornwall and will help her constituents buy their first home. The new stamp duty charge on second homes and buy-to-lets will raise money, and a portion of that will be given to local authorities and areas such as Cornwall, where there are quite a lot of second homes.

Low interest rates have meant that many people have had to look at other savings vehicles such as buy-to-let. Measures in the Budget will deeply affect the buy-to-let market, as the Chancellor will be aware. What measures is he taking to help elderly people looking for better savings returns?

There is general agreement across the House that there should be a level playing field, so that people trying to buy their first home are not disadvantaged by people trying to buy a second home or a buy-to-let property. The changes that we have introduced help to do that. Alongside that, we have made the ISA more generous and have created new pension flexibility, so that people can get the most out of their pension savings. The low interest rates, decided independently by our central bank, are part of the vital support for our economy going forward.

20. I acknowledge the work that the Chancellor has done on tackling the bias towards buy-to-let in the housing market, but would he consider extending that by cutting further the tax relief on buy-to-let properties? We simply have to widen the space for first-time buyers so that they can get into the market, particularly in London. (902463)

I welcome the support that the hon. Lady gives; of course, the problems of getting on to the housing ladder are particularly acute for first-time buyers in London. In the summer Budget, we announced changes to mortgage tax relief for the buy-to-let market so that those on higher rates of tax, with larger incomes, will see that relief scaled back over the coming years. What we have set out now, with the extra stamp duty and the changes in the summer Budget, represents a fair and balanced package for homeowners—those buying a buy-to-let property, but above all those buying their first home.

Will the Chancellor explain how first-time homebuyers will benefit from his blueprint “A better deal”—what the Daily Mail calls a “blitz on rip-off” monopolies?

I am glad that my hon. Friend has read the document. Part of what we are doing is making sure that mortgage fees are more transparent. Alongside that, we are ensuring that utility bills are more competitive for families and cutting the electricity tariffs that we talked about earlier. We are also making sure that people can get a better deal from their water company. This is all part of driving down costs for families and helping the working people of Britain.

What will really support people with home ownership is massively increasing the supply of new homes—not, as the autumn statement does, simply subsidising people to bid up the prices of existing homes. After five and a half years in office, it is time that the Chancellor took some responsibility. He has a woeful record on house building, exacerbating the market failure that has led to restricted supply and consequently high prices. When will the Government increase supply very markedly by starting a real programme of mass house building—of homes for rent as well as to buy?

Over the course of this decade we will have built more social homes than in the entire period when the Labour party was in office. Affordable housing should also be housing that people can afford to buy, as well as rent, and we are doubling the housing budget and undertaking the biggest house building programme since the 1970s. It is a shame that the hon. Gentleman was not with me in Wolverhampton yesterday seeing the new jobs being created at the Jaguar Land Rover engine plant as we make sure that we build homes for the people working at that plant.