Housing report calls for better support for first time buyers

14 November 2003
People could be helped to purchase a home through the introduction of new measures such as tax breaks, a new report suggests.

The Home Ownership Task Force report proposes simplifying the "complicated" range of low cost home buying schemes and claims the government and lenders should work together to reduce mortgage costs.

Task force, the Housing Corporation, published the government commissioned report.

The report suggests phasing out big discounts for council tenants buying their homes and replacing them with a government bond to give more people a stake in the housing market.

It also called for the suspension of council house sales in areas such as London where low-cost homes are in short supply.

The Housing Corporation calls for safeguards to prevent abuse of the right-to-buy scheme in the short term and recommends that town halls should have a statutory right of first option to re-purchase former council houses at market value to boost the depleting stock of social housing.

In the longer term, the report claims, house "equity bonds" could spread home ownership more fairly than discounts, which are not means tested, giving lower-income people outside council housing a chance to get onto the property ladder.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who commissioned the report, said some of the task force's recommendations would be put forward immediately in the new Housing Bill, while others would be considered in the New Year.

Task Force chairwoman and Labour peer Baroness Dean commented: "While a home of your own is not the aspiration of everyone, many people wanting a foot on the property ladder say they are daunted by the sheer volume of scheme and information currently available."

At present, 50,000 council houses are still sold each year in England, but only 30,000 social homes are being built.