While the tumultuous machinations of Brexit continue to dominate the headlines, people across the country rightly expect the government to deliver on the issues affecting the prosperity of their families every day.
For many people, one of these key issues is housing. For the younger generation, it is about ensuring home ownership is not an impossible dream. For those of us with children, it is about helping as many as possible gain the security that comes from owning your own home, and if they wish, to afford to live in the area where they were brought up.
This is particularly important, given the well-recognised fact that too few houses have been built by governments of all sides over recent decades. So I am pleased the government has provided welcome support to first time buyers through Help to Buy.
Help to Buy has two main schemes. One allows future first-time buyers to take out an Individual Savings Account (ISA) which pays out a government bonus of up to £3,000 towards the cost of a new home. Another scheme, the equity loan, means buyers only need to raise 5 per cent of a property’s value for a deposit and the government will provide a loan of up to 20 per cent of the property’s value interest-free for five years.
Figures released this month show 144 families in South Shropshire have already benefitted from the Help to Buy ISA, launched in 2015. Overall since 2010, in England almost half a million families have used Help to Buy to get a foot on the housing ladder - with more than 93 per cent of completions taking place outside London.
Alongside these schemes, the government has also cut Stamp Duty for 95 per cent of first-time buyers, and taken 80 per cent of first-time buyers out of Stamp Duty altogether – benefitting over 121,000 people to date.
The government has made clear its ambition to build 300,00 homes a year by the mid 2020s. Shropshire is seeking to play its part in delivering new homes, with the current local plan review targeting to build 28,750 homes between 2016 and 2036. This plan, alongside measures like Help to Buy, will help ensure more young Salopians can achieve their dream of owning their own home in their own county.