The UK government has announced a new scheme for the new year, which will offer a 20 per cent discount on new homes to first-time buyers.

The Starter Home scheme will offer new homes with a 20% discount to 100,000 first-time buyers, as part of a major push to help people onto the housing ladder.

The proposed scheme enters a consultation period from today and arrives after multiple measures taken to boost construction in the UK. Indeed, according to experts, 250,000 homes are needed every year to meet demand for housing, a rebalance of supply that would help end first-time buyers being priced out of the market.

Aspiring home owners will be asked to register their interest in buying via the Starter Home initiative from the start of next year – at least six months earlier than planned. The government today set out how the scheme will work.

The measures will include planning changes to allow house builders to develop under-used or unviable brownfield land and free them from planning costs and levies. Currently, builders can face an average bill of £15,000 per home in Section 106 affordable housing contributions and tariffs, often adding tens of thousands to the cost of a site. Under the proposals, developers offering Starter Homes would be exempt from those Section 106 charges and Community Infrastructure Levy charges. In return, they will be able to offer homes at a minimum 20 per cent discount exclusively to first time buyers under the age of forty. (The homes could then not be re-sold at market value for a fixed period – making sure that the savings are passed onto homebuyers.)

Already leading house builders, including 3 of the nation’s largest and councils from up and down the country have pledged their support for the initiative, with more than 30 house builders have said that that they support the plans and would consider bringing forward land to develop the new, discounted houses, from next year.

A new design panel, including world famous architects such as Sir Terry Farrell and Sir Quinlan Terry will also be established to ensure that new homes are not only lower cost but also high quality and well-designed.

Developers and councils are being asked to respond to the proposals to ensure the changes will unlock a range of sites across the country.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, says the scheme is a positive step: "Increasing housing supply is a huge and complex challenge and significant barriers remain. Bringing forward more land for house building, while also enabling more first time buyers to realise their ambition of home ownership would be another positive step on the way to tackling the housing shortage."

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    Nick Marr

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