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IMLA calls for ‘big thinking’ Budget to fix the housing market

Savings schemes, Help to Buy replacements and Stamp Duty should all be looked at by the government ahead of the Budget on 11 March 2020, according to the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association.

IMLA said first-time buyers have to find large deposits of 20-25% due to tighter affordability criteria and stress testing rules, which means ‘more creative thinking’ is required to stimulate schemes to help them save, or buy with additional loans.

Speaking of additional loans, the trade association said it was unsure what will replace the Help to Buy scheme, which is set to expire in 2021. IMLA asked for clarification on the First Homes scheme.

IMLA suggested the government review Stamp Duty Land Tax, to see if there’s a way a revamped structure could reduce the barriers to moving without significantly impacting tax revenues.

Meanwhile it called for more social housing to boost the public rented sector.

Kate Davies, executive director of IMLA, said: “The new government’s first Budget presents an opportunity to take a real stride forward in its commitment to fixing Britain’s housing market – which the Conservatives themselves described as ‘broken’ in their wide-ranging white paper (published in February 2017).

“It’s clear Boris Johnson is bringing a ‘big thinking’ approach to policy making and major capital projects – from his thumbs-up for HS2 to rumours of a Boris Bridge – and we’re urging the government to bring a similarly bold approach to housing.

“Getting the strategy right means committing to a long-term vision – and with its sizeable majority, the government is well-placed to co-ordinate that vision across all departments.

“We don’t just need more homes – we need the right size and design of well-built, energy-efficient homes, which are properly serviced by a well-planned infrastructure including roads, schools, hospitals and public transport networks.

“The pledge to build 200,000 houses a year is welcome – but the fact that that target has already been met over the last 5 years indicates that the government could be more ambitious.

“We need thorough analysis of what the UK’s housing needs are going to be over the next 20-30 years – and real leadership to deliver that.”