First-time house-buyers under the age of 40 are being promised a 20% discount on new homes if the Conservatives are re-elected, David Cameron has pledged.
The Conservatives said their new Help to Buy Starter Homes scheme would stimulate building 100,000 extra starter homes on targeted brownfield land.
The discount will be delivered by building the homes on the lower value land, and by dropping Section 106 and Community Infrastructure charges, as well as exempting the new homes from meeting 2016 zero carbon homes standard.
Cameron said: “We want to help more young people achieve the dream of home ownership so today I can pledge we will build 100,000 homes for young, first-time buyers.
“We will make these starter homes 20% cheaper by exempting them from a raft of taxes and by using brownfield land. I don’t want to see young people locked out of home ownership.
“We’ve already started to tackle the problem with Help to Buy mortgages - and these new plans will help tens of thousands more people to buy their first home.”
The move was welcomed by the industry as another step in the right direction but calls are growing for a long-term strategic approach to support housing investment and create a stable industry.
CEO of the Modern Masonry Alliance, Mike Leonard, said: “While we welcome this announcement we need long term joined up plans and not sound bites. We need long term 30-year local delivery plans that join up the dots.“We need to ensure we build with British made bricks and blocks built to last 150 years. “This will create thousands of local jobs in manufacturing, merchanting and on site construction.“Mixed messages from the Coalition Government will destroy investment in UK Plc and will miss the opportunity to provide many thousands of meaningful jobs for the 50% of young people who will follow vocational careers.”
London’s mayor Boris Johnson today opened an innovative new £200m investment scheme for developers and housing associations.
The London Housing Bank is tasked with providing financial support to speed up the construction of homes.
This could include building later parts of large multi-phased housing schemes earlier than scheduled.
The Bank offers low cost loans starting at 1% interest to incentivise development partners to build up to 4,000 homes on a range of sites.
Loans are conditional that homes will be rented to Londoners at a rate at least 20% below market for at least seven years.
The loan will run up to 16 years and after it is repaid, developers will be free to sell the homes to the current occupiers, into the market or retain them as affordable homes to use as long-term rent.
Johnson, said: “Through the pioneering London Housing Bank, I’m challenging the capital’s developers to get building, and deliver the homes Londoners need, as fast as humanly possible.
“Loans are available from a £200m pot to significantly accelerate the pace of development, especially on bigger schemes, and unlock additional supply.
“Through this exciting new fund we hope to provide thousands of brand new homes many years sooner than would otherwise be possible for hardworking Londoners.”
The London Housing Bank prospectus is being launched at the same time as the Government launches a national investment scheme for developers to boost house building, with the initial funding for the Housing Bank being made available to the Greater London Authority by the Government.
All homes will be advertised on the First Steps online portal, the Mayor’s programme to help low and modest income Londoners to buy or rent in the capital at a price they can afford.
A wide range of new and existing housing providers are being encouraged to bid for loans as well as private sector organisations including private registered providers and developers.
Bidding will be through the Greater London Authority’s Investment Management System.
The majority of funding is expected to be low cost interest bearing loans, with equity loan bids being considered on a case-by-case basis.
Major house builders have hit back at claims by Labour that they are hoarding development land to reduce supply and boost profits.
Their salvo at Labour follows a party political broadcast last night where Ed Miliband accused big developers of sitting on hundreds of thousands of places for homes with planning permission to increase land values.
The Labour leader vowed he would get tough on big house builders as he set out his vision for building more homes over the next 10 years.
Miliband said: “Our 10-year aim for the county is to build as many homes as the country needs - now we haven’t done that for 50 years so that is incredibly ambitious.
“We’ve got to break the power of the big developers, because they’re sitting on hundreds of thousands of places for homes with planning permission and they’re not building because they’re waiting for it to accumulate in value
“And we’re going to get tough with them and say you can’t just sit on the land, government’s got to make them do their bit.”
Trade body the Home Builders Federation slammed the claims as ‘unhelpful political rhetoric based on myth’.
The war of words comes as house building emerges as a key battleground for the political parties in the run up to the election.
A statement issued by the HBF said: ”House builders completely reject the accusation that they hoard land that is capable of providing new homes .
“Three independent studies in the last decade, including most recently by the Office of Fair Trading, have all concluded house builders do not land bank.”
The latest HBF survey of larger home builders revealed that only 4% of plots with an implementable planning permissions were on sites where production had not yet started.
“The country faces a housing crisis that will take a collective effort to solve.
“It is unhelpful when political rhetoric centres on myths when the real challenge is how we increase housing supply.
“If we are to meet the new ambitious targets all parties are agreed are required, politicians need to work with the house building industry to address the constraints on housing supply.”
“We will continue to try and present the evidence to policymakers in a balanced and objective way so that we can overcome political expediency and get to grips with the issues that people actually care about.”
New homes "Think Tank", The Futures Group, details how to rise to the challenge of delivering better homes for the consumer.
Contributors to The Futures Group include leading experts from national house builders, manufacturers and regulatory bodies.
The UK Government has set out an ambitious plan for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016. The Zero Carbon Hub is here to help you understand the challenges, issues and opportunities involved in developing, building and marketing your low and zero carbon homes. www.zerocarbonhub.org