The Chancellor’s announcement of the Help to Buy Isa has been broadly welcomed by the industry but, further afield, some cynicism remains. Shelter’s chief executive recently called it “yet another example of government attempting to put a sticking plaster over a gaping wound”.
The first-time buyer market remains difficult to ignore. Government initiatives and lender innovations continue to have a positive impact on activity levels but it is clear the lack of affordable housing is still at the heart of this issue. However, there are some positive figures to build upon. A recent report by the Home Builders Federation and Glenigan suggested residential planning approvals were up by 14.5 per cent in 2014.
Any lingering supply issue is no secret and schemes such as the Help to Buy Isa are not intended as a fix-all. But alongside stamp duty reforms and the overall Help to Buy scheme, they are important in giving housebuilders confidence to help meet this growing demand.
Let us hope this confidence translates into the availability of more affordable housing to keep first-time buyers in the headlines and at the forefront of the new government’s attention for the right reasons.