In her speech, the Queen said, “my Government will take steps to support home ownership, including making homes available at a discount for local first-time buyers”. The motivation behind the scheme is to enable local people a fairer chance at owning property in the increasingly competitive market; with current competition from overseas buyers and investors steadily invading the market. This will drastically improve the affordability of homes for the average working person which provides a glimmer of hope for their home ownership pursuit.
According to the Monevator, “over the past 30 years house prices have risen nationally by 428%; with London house prices rising by an average by 559%”. Whilst this does not take inflation into consideration, it is easy to interpret that wages have not risen at the same accelerated rate during this time making it difficult for the average working person to save a large enough deposit to buy a home. Considering this, it is fair to say that the introduction of a 30% discount scheme would be welcomed by all and will enable a stronger sense of community. This is because the scheme names ‘key workers’ as part of those that it will target; recognising and offering support to those who contribute to their community.
This scheme seems to be a replacement for the recently closed to new applicants Help to Buy ISA, with further focus on helping first time buyers. To enable the First Homes scheme to function, councils will be able to use contributions from housing developers to facilitate the discounts.
The First Homes scheme should not be viewed as taking away from these other areas, as the Government has also pledged to rejuvenate the Affordable Homes Programme and Shared Ownership Programme so that they can also deliver on their promises. An overhaul of the rental system to make it fit for contemporary society and will strengthen the rights of tenants has also been discussed.
The Queens speech has delivered some promising news to start 2020, but the success of the First Homes scheme will be truly measured by its detailed workings in practice. At present, the specifics of who counts as ‘local’ to qualify for the scheme is unclear (such as does someone have to live, where do they have to work, and how long for?). Despite the lack of detail, it is safe to say is that the Government clearly want to give back to the community to continue its growth and prevent homes being left empty in this time of growing demand.