Home Editor's Pick Main Parties Clash Over First-Time Buyer Support

Main Parties Clash Over First-Time Buyer Support

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Labour and the Conservatives have intensified their debate over housing, making it a key issue in the election campaign.

Both parties accuse each other of failing to deliver on their housing promises, with a particular focus on support for first-time buyers and tenants.

The Conservatives have pledged to abolish stamp duty permanently for first-time buyers purchasing properties up to £425,000. This threshold, currently set to revert to £300,000 in April next year, was temporarily raised to support homebuyers. The Conservatives argue that Labour’s failure to match this plan would result in first-time buyers facing tax bills of up to £11,250.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove, who is not standing for re-election, emphasised the Conservatives’ “clear plan” to help people get on the housing ladder. He accused Labour of imposing a significant stamp duty increase on first-time buyers from next April.

In response, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer defended the party’s stance, stating that the current stamp duty plan set out in the Budget is fully costed. He criticised the Conservative proposal as an unfunded commitment.

Analysts highlight that stamp duty is mainly paid by those purchasing larger homes or properties in more expensive areas. According to the Office for National Statistics, the average house price for first-time buyers in Britain in April 2024 was £236,000, which would not incur any stamp duty under current rules.

Labour has also focused on protecting renters, pledging immediate action to ban no-fault evictions, a measure the Conservatives have also promised but have yet to implement. Labour plans to require all rental homes to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate rating of C by 2030, aiming to save tenants an average of £250 per year.

The Conservative housing strategy includes building homes with a focus on brownfield development and maintaining the stamp duty exemption for first-time buyers of properties up to £425,000. In contrast, Labour aims to reform planning rules, accelerate development on brownfield and “grey belt” land, extend mortgage support schemes, and enhance tenants’ rights.

Other parties have also outlined their housing policies:Liberal Democrats: Advocate for additional social housing, new “garden cities,” and support for local authorities to end the “right to buy” policy for council housing. They propose banning no-fault evictions, making three-year tenancies standard, and creating a national register of licensed landlords.Green Party: Plan to invest in new social housing, repurpose empty properties, set higher environmental standards for new builds, and require more affordable units. They support rent controls and an eviction ban.Scottish National Party: Declared a national housing emergency and promised funding for new affordable homes across Scotland, including rural and island projects.Plaid Cymru: Focus on expanding social housing and supporting the Welsh construction industry. They advocate for local authorities to buy back more second homes and holiday lets, ban no-fault evictions, and implement rent controls.Reform UK: Propose fast-tracking planning, offering tax incentives for brownfield site development, and providing tax breaks to small-scale landlords. They prioritise social housing for people born in the UK.

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