Why starter homes became a non-starter

The 2019 election campaign has officially begun – and the National Audit Office couldn’t have picked a better (or worse!) time to publish statistics which discredited a significant pillar of government housing policy. Or should I say non-statistics?

This week, the NAO revealed that not a single home was built on the back of plans to create 200,000 new homes for first-time buyers under 40.

The Starter Homes scheme, proposed in 2014, aimed to sell properties on ex-industrial land at a 20% discount. But legislation never got off the ground as the scheme’s flaws became painfully apparent.

I must admit, I completely forgot about the Starter Homes proposal after it was initially floated. As it faded into oblivion, I was more interested in the mixed consequences of the Help to Buy equity loan and to a much softer degree, the Help to Buy Isa. But the failure of Starter Homes was expensive (£174m was spent on acquiring land for the scheme) and caused a significant shortfall in new homes being built, just as nearly everybody was reaching agreement that housing supply desperately needed to be boosted.

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