Thursday, 25 May 2017

CLG refutes ‘help to buy’ second homes claim

The Communities and Local Government department has insisted the help to buy policy announced last week should not support the purchase of second homes.

The £3.5 billion low-cost homeownership initiative has come under fire after senior ministers refused to confirm whether or not it could be used to buy second homes.

Business secretary Vince Cable told the House of Commons last week that: ‘The scheme has not yet been designed in detail.’

A statement issued by the CLG states: ‘The intention of this policy is very clear: to help people get their first home or move home. It is not the intention to help people buy more than one home.’

The statement was released in response to an article in the Daily Telegraph that quoted planning minister Nick Boles as saying the government’s intention is to create a building boom and he ‘couldn’t care who owns the bloody things’.

Mr Boles also reportedly told a meeting with property developers that he wants to relax planning rules to make it easier for people to build homes.

He drew attention to a line in the Budget that states: ‘The government will consult on allowing further flexibilities between use classes to support change of use from certain agricultural and retail uses to residential use to increase responsiveness within the planning system.’

The CLG said the line ‘is about making use of what’s already there, converting unused, unviable buildings into homes without the need for red tape’.

Under help to buy two current homeownership schemes will be extended: shared equity scheme firstbuy will be boosted by extra funds, and eligibility criteria will be lifted; while guarantee scheme newbuy, which encourages lenders to offer 95 per cent loan-to-value mortgages, will be extended to cover existing as well as new homes.

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