First-time buyers need more help, review finds

Two women study houses for sale Image copyright PA

First-time buyers need more support to halt the decline in home ownership, a study by one of the UK's biggest housebuilders has concluded.

Long-term building targets were also required to avoid "kneejerk" policy moves, the Redfern Review said.

It found home ownership rates in England fell from 71% to 64% over 12 years, with the steepest drop among young people.

Labour, which commissioned the report, said it showed a "lost generation".

Among 25-34 year olds, the rate of home ownership fell from 59% in 2003 to 37% in 2015, according to the review led by Pete Redfern, chief executive of Taylor Wimpey.

Lower incomes for younger people since the financial crisis in 2008, as well as their more limited access to mortgage finance, were major contributing factors, he said.

To help them back on the housing ladder, Mr Redfern said schemes such as Help to Buy, which allows househunters to pay smaller deposits, should be targeted more exclusively at first-time buyers.

"We must focus on supporting today's younger generation and creating a genuine long-term housing strategy independent of short-term party politics if we are to improve the position in a sustainable way for future generations," he said.

Image copyright PA

Labour said the review revealed "a lost generation unable to get on the housing ladder", and that the "squeeze on young people" was at the heart of the decline in the number of home-owners.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey, who commissioned the report, said: "The shrinking opportunity for young people on ordinary incomes to own a home is at the centre of the growing gulf between housing haves and housing have-nots."

The Redfern Review also called for 10- and 20-year building targets, agreed by all political parties, to tackle the housing shortage.

And it said the creation of an independent housing commission would help to avoid "kneejerk reactions in our policy approach".

Government figures released on Tuesday showed house building in England was at its strongest level in eight years, with the number of new homes being built having increased 11% in a year.

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