Help to Buy  

Misplaced Help to Buy threatens "substantial losses"

Although the committee found the scheme had increased housing supply by 14 per cent by giving developers the confidence to increase their rate of building, MPs were also concerned the government was not adequately prepared for a shortfall experienced by the market once the scheme is pulled in 2023.

Earlier this year fears that the housing market had become too reliant on Help to Buy were voiced when research showed the scheme had funded up to 97 per cent of new build sales in some regions.

Committee chair Meg Hillier said: “While many people have been helped to buy properties, who would have not otherwise been able to, an even larger group of buyers did not need its financial support.

“Help to Buy does not help make homes more affordable nor address other pressing housing problems in the sector such as the planning system or homelessness."

Ms Hillier added the scheme exposed both the government and consumers to significant financial risks, stressing better consumer protection needed to be built into similar schemes in the future.

Nick Sanderson, chief executive of Audley Group, said: “The scheme might have boosted housing supply, but it has done nothing to address other fundamental problems in the system. 

“Nothing is being done to free up the abundance of under-occupied housing stock in the UK, or help those who are living in those houses move to more suitable properties. 

“Initiatives like a stamp duty holiday for over 65s, that focus on those that have the power to bring movement to the housing market would mean fewer new homes were needed in the first place. The government needs to wake up to the real issue in the housing market and be brave enough to address them.”

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Housing said: “Help to Buy has been life changing for many first-time buyers across the country. In the last year 52,000 households have bought a home with support from Help to Buy equity loans, of which more than 43,000 were first-time buyers – the highest-ever annual total.

“However, we will always consider suggestions on how the Help to Buy scheme could work better.”

imogen.tew@ft.com

What do you think about the issues raised by this story? Email us on fa.letters@ft.com to let us know.