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Support for First-time Buyers

Volume 710: debated on Monday 7 March 2022

Since 2010, more than 758,000 households have been helped to purchase a home through Government-backed schemes, including Help to Buy and Right to Buy. In the levelling-up White Paper, we included this mission:

“By 2030, renters will have a secure path to ownership with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas”.

Conservative choices have created a housing crisis by allowing developers to maximise profit, building housing for investment rather than good-quality, safe, secure, affordable homes. However, building more homes will not in itself solve the housing crisis if those homes are bought off plan by foreign investors before local people such as my constituents can even get a look in. In order to ensure that first-time buyers are not squeezed out by foreign investors and second home owners, will the Government support Labour’s proposal to allow them first dibs on new homes?

Let me first make it clear that it is my keen ambition in this role to do everything I can to help more people on to the housing ladder. We have produced a great many schemes that help to achieve that purpose. We already have the First Homes scheme, which provides a 30% discount for local people, for whom those homes remain in perpetuity.

Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the fact that last year saw the highest number of first-time buyers in two decades, under this Government, and will he pledge to do everything he can to increase that number in future years?

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the increase in the number of first-time buyers. We are keen to ensure that it continues, and the levelling-up White Paper will be key to delivering that for as many people as possible throughout the country.

The Opposition have repeatedly criticised the Government’s First Homes scheme on the grounds that, by top-slicing section 106 funding, it drastically reduces the number of social and affordable rented homes that are being built, but we also have concerns that the scheme is failing in practice to help large numbers of first-time buyers across the country. Given that the new build premium is continuing to rise, and given that UK house price index data suggest that average house prices in England have increased by 18% since the scheme was first consulted on, can the Minister tell us in how many local authority areas the discount on those homes has not already been entirely eroded?

I accept that there are a number of things that we need to do in relation to the First Homes scheme. Homes England’s early delivery programme will provide a further 1,500 homes, but of course we will monitor these developments and do everything we can to help people get on to the property ladder. After all, achieving that has always been a huge principle of the Conservative party.

Despite the covid pandemic, more than 800 new homes were built in my constituency last year, many of them affordable for first-time buyers. More than 800 houses were built during the previous year, and more than 800 will be built this year. Does the Minister agree that the best thing we can do for first-time buyers is ensure that all constituencies build an ample number of high-quality, affordable homes?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Having local authorities with well-developed local plans to ensure that they are ready and prepared to build the houses that their local area needs is incredibly important. The affordable homes programme that the Government have announced, with £11.5 billion-worth of investment, will help to secure that, so that we can try to deliver the 180,000 homes that that is expected to deliver.