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Tories pledge to boost home ownership in election manifesto – BBC News



Image source, Getty Images

  • Author, Paul Seddon
  • Role, Political reporter

Rishi Sunak has promised the Conservative election manifesto will contain “transformational” policies to boost home ownership.

Writing for the Telegraph, the prime minister said his party would bring back a “new and improved” version of the Help to Buy scheme, which ended in England last year.

Landlords would also not have to pay tax on profits when selling to tenants, he added, to give them “a chance to own the home they live in”.

Mr Sunak said his party would continue indefinitely the existing £425,000 threshold before first-time buyers have to pay stamp duty tax on purchases.

This threshold, which applies in England and Northern Ireland, was raised in 2022 and is currently due to end in March next year.

Housing is a key issue at the general election, with parties vying to win support from aspiring home owners.

Opposition parties have seized on Mr Sunak’s admission during a BBC interview on Monday that it has become harder for people to own their own homes since the Conservatives have been in office.

Unveiling his party’s election manifesto later, he will attempt to get back on the front foot with a series of measures aiming to “build an ownership society”.

This includes allowing first-time buyers to get a government loan worth up to 20% to buy a new-build property.

This scheme ended in March 2023 for England, although first-time buyers can still apply for such a loan in Wales.

‘Helping hand’

The revived scheme would last three years, with developers contributing towards equity loan costs and no interest on government loans for the first five years.

“This will be transformational for those on the brink of home ownership but who need a helping hand to get there,” he added.

Exact eligibility criteria are yet to be confirmed, but the Times has reported the new scheme will be available for purchases under £400,000. The previous programme had a threshold of £250,000, or £450,000 for properties in London.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been bought through the scheme since it was launched in 2013 – although it has also been criticised as the “crack cocaine of the building industry,” and blamed for pushing up house prices.

The prime minister also said that, if re-elected, the Tories would scrap capital gains tax for landlords who sell their property to existing tenants.

Landlords currently have to pay the tax on profits they make from a sale, and Mr Sunak said the proposed tax relief would “incentivise landlords to give tenants a chance to own the home they live in”.

“It is good for landlords and transformational for tenant,” he wrote.

Details for the scheme have not been confirmed, although the Telegraph reported the exemption would last two years and is expected to cost the Treasury £20m a year in lost revenue.

The Conservatives have a target to build 300,000 new homes in England per year by the “mid-2020s”, which it is yet to meet.

Labour has pledged a similar target of building 1.5m homes over a five-year period in England if it is elected. It has promised radical plans to streamline the planning system, although details are yet to be announced.

The Liberal Democrats, who launched their manifesto on Monday, are pledging to build 380,000 new homes a year across the UK, including a specific annual target of 150,000 social homes.

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