BUDGET 2011: Housing incentive should stimulate growth

The property community has cautiously welcomed details of the Firstbuy Direct scheme announced by George Osborne which will see first time buyers receive aid from the government to the tune of £250m, helping an estimated 10,000 individuals onto the housing ladder.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, said: "This package broadly makes sense, because it targets home deposits, and is about as much as the government could realistically do in current circumstances. It is important that any government spending at this juncture is also supporting growth and jobs and we would like to have a seen a refined policy which targets such aid at homes yet to built or completed, rather than a means of house builders selling unsold stock."

Mark Gallimore, managing director of the Livingcity Group, a Manchester-based property asset firm, said: "The Government's proposal to help first time buyers to the tune of £250m sounds like a good idea in principle, and we broadly welcome any initiative which attempts to pump-prime the market. However, it will only help if banks start lending effectively again and if public confidence increases. The issue of finding a large deposit is one barrier to entering the housing market but the risk of losing your job and the soaring cost of living are also major factors that are deterring people from buying. Whilst we would never endorse a return to irresponsible lending, the market in the North West and beyond needs more than token cash injections – it needs a sustainable plan to be put in place that actively encourages development for maximum long term benefit coupled with realistic lending policies from the banks."

Chris Fry, head of property and construction at KPMG in the North West, said: "The Government's initiative to help first-time buyers will help to stimulate the market, hopefully feeding through to building companies and suppliers. Last year saw the lowest level of new house starts since 1923. The average age of a UK first-time buyer who has to rely on his or her own earnings now stands at 36. The Chancellor's new measures should help to reverse this trend."

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