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Lifetime Isa won’t ease supply problems

Property experts have warned that Chancellor George Osborne's new Lifetime Isa will do nothing to solve housing supply and affordability problems.

From April 2017, savers under 40 will get a Government bonus of £1 for every £4 they invest in the Lifetime Isa.

They can pay in up to £4,000 a year, which would give them a maximum £1,000 annual bonus.


Savings can be used as a deposit on their first home or be held until age 60 as pension income.

Savers can withdraw their money at any time but if they do so before age 60 they must return the Government bonus and any growth on that, and pay a 5% exit charge.

Adrian Anderson, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said the Lifetime Isa should encourage saving but if property prices keep rising at the same rate it will still be incredibly difficult for first-time buyers to get onto the housing ladder.

The scheme sets a maximum limit £450,000 on property purchases, he said. "This will exclude many homes in London and the south-east, and unless it rises on a fairly reasonable basis, it will be of limited use to those buying in more expensive areas.

“The problem of supply remains an issue and unless more homes become available, property prices won’t be kept in check."

Anderson said that raising the personal allowance for higher-rate taxpayers to £45,000 from next year should give middle-earners more spare cash to put towards a deposit or meet their mortgage repayments.

“While these measures will support aspiring homeowners, this Budget didn’t do enough to address supply-side issues that are putting pressure on affordability.”

Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, welcomed the Lifetime Isa but said more needed to be done.

“Our recent Housing 2025 report forecast that house prices will soar by 50% by 2025, meaning that the task of helping first-time buyers to get on the first rung of the housing ladder is only set to get more difficult."

The Chancellor also announced plans to support housebuilding in local authorities via the Local Growth Fund, streamline the planning process and promote building on brownfield sites.

Andrew Bridges, managing director of Stirling Ackroyd, said the Budget was a starting point in tackling the complex planning system.

“A more integrated effort between local councils and central government may help. Too often, the multiple stages of planning applications deter builders."

He also welcomed plans to increase density on brownfield sites and encourage more development.


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