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Housing plan could be hit by building blocks

by Mark Harris

Gordon Brown’s final pre-Budget report was a wasted opportunity.

Removing stamp duty on the “vast majority” of new zero-carbon homes is a token gesture. Nothing less than an extensive overhaul of stamp duty would have done – abolishing it for first-time buyers and introducing a tiered system for homeowners.

The Government seems to be addressing the shortage in housing supply, trying to address this in an environmentally friendly way. It is about time but the plan to make all new homes zero-carbon by 2010 is ambitious and the Government may struggle to persuade the construction industry that this is commercially and financially viable.

Helping 160,000 households into homeownership by 2010 with an extension of shared equity is still a drop in the ocean. Extending the scheme to households on lower incomes is welcome.

As for the “competition for lenders to join the scheme”. this is desperately needed, with just four on board. If more lenders sign up, the products will improve, making it easier to get on the ladder.

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