First-time buyers in Portsmouth area have received £2m from Help to Buy scheme

MORE than £2 million in government funding has gone to struggling first-time buyers in the Portsmouth region since 2015, a new analysis has found.

Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 5:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 10:37 am

Almost 2,000 homes across the region were purchased using the Help to Buy scheme, which grants a 25 per cent bonus on any cash saved for a mortgage deposit, worth up to £3,000.

The scheme was due to end in 2024, but the secretary of state for housing has indicated it could be extended, despite the scheme coming under criticism.

Portsmouth City Council's cabinet member for housing, Councillor Darren Sanders, described it as a ‘blunderbuss solution to a complex problem.’

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He said: ‘I will not criticise anyone taking a government subsidy - but shouldn’t that cash go to local councils to build affordable homes?

‘The government needs to give people in Portsmouth the control to make the decision that are best for us.’

‘But that’s typical Whitehall - they think they know best.’

First-time buyers in Portsmouth need more affordable housing and homes closer to their jobs, rather than deposits subsidised by the government, Cllr Sanders said.

He added: ‘We need to build homes that our young people can afford so they don’t leave the city.’

The cash bonus on average was just £921 for first-time buyers across Portsmouth, Gosport, Havant, and Fareham.

Of these areas, Fareham was the most expensive with an average house price of £295,286.27.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said many working families across the South East found it ‘totally unaffordable to private rent or buy.’

She said: ‘Piecemeal schemes like Help to Buy aren’t the answer, we need to see ambitious investment in social housing if we’re going to tackle the housing crisis.’

A spokesman for the Treasury said: ‘The Help to Buy and Lifetime ISAs have been hugely popular with first-time buyers.

‘More than 218,000 property completions have been supported through the Help to Buy ISA and 330,000 ‘Lifetime ISA accounts have been opened since its introduction, helping more people to get on the property ladder and save for later in life.

‘These ISAs, like all tax policy, are kept under constant review.’