Major housebuilder questions discounted homes scheme

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Taylor Wimpey has raised questions over government plans to offer discounts to first time buyers…

The government has been somewhat chipper over its plans to get as many people onto the housing ladder as possible. Incentives for first time buyers are plentiful, ranging from money off properties, ISAs to help with save, and reduced deposits.

Housebuilders have also gained significantly from the government’s push to help people to buy.  One of the UK’s largest builders Taylor Wimpey revealed its shareholders were likely to see an increase in 2016, after sales rose seven per cent in the year to the end of December. The firm also saw average selling prices increase eight per cent to £230,000 last year.

The firm also sold some 13,341 properties last year and had 76,000 plots in its short term land bank after switching more than 8,000 plots from its long term “strategic pipeline”.

However, there are concerns over some of the plans the government has put in place. Taylor Wimpey, in particular, has questioned how the discounted properties for first time buyers scheme would work.

The firm raised concerns over proposals to slash 20 per cent off the price of more than 200,000 new builds.

Chief executive Pete Redfern said that while the starter home programme could work there were huge question marks over parts of the scheme, including its impact on affordable housing.

Redfern said he was concerned about how the 20 per cent discount would be set and how local authorities would be involved in the process. Last year, the government removed obligations placed on builders to provide affordable housing or to make payments in lieu to councils, which were worth around £15,000 per house to councils. It was hoped this would make it easier for developers to start projects.

Redfern said: “The government has been supportive of our industry and first-time buyers so we want to work with them to make it work.

“There are a couple of things that particularly concern me. They are more about the scale at which the policy can work and particularly the impact on the affordability sector.”

He added the problems were serious and needed to be resolved, warning the longer the questions remained unanswered, the harder it would be to meet the government’s target for building.

“If it were just niggly bits around ‘we are not sure how it would work’, I would put it that way,” Redfern said.

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