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Help to Buy ISA open for business

Week in Westminster

Published: 4 December 2015 | Author: Michelle Vosper

The new Help to Buy: ISA scheme was open for business from 1 December with 14 different firms offering the new product. The new ISA will provide first-time buyers the opportunity to save up to £200 a month which the government will top up by 25%, up to a maximum of £3,000.

A debate on the measures announced in the autumn statement took place in the House of Lords. Lord Young urged the government to bring stability and resilience to the private rented sector. He defended the buy-to-let market saying that “during the past 15 years, the only section [of the housing market] that has actually worked is the private sector for rent”. He went on to suggest, given the “turbulence” that lies ahead for the buy-to-let market, the government should consider establishing an investment trust to which buy-to-let landlords could sell their properties in return for shares to ensure landlords continue to have exposure to the private rental market.

Lords economic affairs committee opened its inquiry into the economics of the UK housing market. Kate Barker gave evidence during the committee’s first session. Topics covered included the measures announced in the autumn statement, as well as whether the government’s ambition for one million new homes is realistic or adequate to deal with the housing crisis; the impact of introducing a new land value tax on motivation to build new houses; the impact of help to buy; and how renting can be made a more attractive proposition. The committee will be accepting written evidence for this inquiry until 17 December.

The impact of stamp duty reform for second homes, government support for home ownership, the buy-to-let market; Help to Buy ISA; and house building in different tenures were some of the subjects raised by MPs during Treasury oral questions.

Housing and Planning Bill committee sat for four sessions this week. The committee debated the Bill clauses in relation to the implementation of the right to buy on a voluntary basis, and also clauses on mandatory rents for high income social tenants (otherwise referred to as “pay to stay”).

Conservative MP Caroline Nokes introduced a debate on the protections for the buyers of new build property and the need for a robust inspection regime during the building of these properties.

And the Scottish government has published its latest quarterly housing statistics. The update provides information on recent trends in new build housing starts and completions, the Affordable Housing Supply Programme, and local authority house sales including right to buy, and long term empty properties and second homes.