Barratt chief calls for more Government backing for Help to Buy
The Scottish Government needs to put more money into the Help to Buy scheme or risk dampening the housing market, the chief executive of Barratt Developments has said.
Mark Clare said the housebuilding giant is keen to invest in Scotland but its enthusiasm could wane unless the Government provides further support for the market under the Help to Buy scheme.
Speaking in The Herald, Mr Clare welcomed reforms to the property tax regime announced by the Scottish Government in the Budget last week.
However, he was disappointed that the Scottish Government did not include any additional funds for the Help to Buy scheme.
Noting the Government announced £125 million of financial transactions for the housing sector without providing details, Mr Clare said: “We don’t know what that means. It could be social housing, could be Help to Buy, could be something else.”
He added: “Until we know what it is we will just have to carry on on the basis that we have limited funds for Help to Buy in Scotland, and that will obviously affect in a way our investment and the ability of our customers to buy.”
Mr Clare was positive about the Scottish Government’s plans to replace Stamp Duty with a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax from April.
“The good thing is we have gone away from a slab tax,” said Mr Clare, who reckoned the new tax would provide most help to people who were hoping to buy their first home.
Noting the bulk of Barratt homes sell for less than the £325,000 threshold at which the building tax payable will be higher than that under Stamp Duty, he said: “The bulk of customers I think will benefit or won’t be affected negatively.”
Mr Clare said Barratt had been making good progress in Scotland.
Sales volumes increased by 40 per cent annually last year, with support from Help to Buy. The company built around 1,000 homes in Scotland and has acquired a further 21 since then.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We will continue to monitor the Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme and will look at ways of making sure everyone in Scotland has access to good-quality, affordable homes.”
The spokesman added: “More than 3,000 homes have been purchased through Help to Buy (Scotland) with an additional 1,500 expected to be completed by the end of the financial year.”