Here’s our ambitious plan to help first time buyers in Scotland

Tuesday 5th January 2016

Kez will today set out an ambitious plan to help first time buyers in Scotland.

In her first manifesto pledge ahead of the Scottish Parliament election in May, she will say “bold action” is needed to help young families catch up otherwise “aspiration will simply pass them by”.

Under the SNP Government the number of people in Scotland aged 34 and younger who have bought their own home with a mortgage has fallen by 15%. Just 28% of those aged 16-34 in Scotland now own their home with a mortgage – the lowest level since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999.

Our plan would effectively double the help first time buyers currently receive towards saving for a deposit. A person who currently saves through a first-time buyer ISA up to the value of £3,000 would be entitled to an additional £3,000 from a Scottish Labour Government to help toward the cost of a deposit to buy a property. Under this plan, the average couple each saving £100 a month would be able to save for a £15,000 deposit within three years.  

Kezia said:

“Existing interventions to help people buy their own home have been welcome but scarcely match the scale of the problem.

“Something has to give or this generation may never catch up, may never recover what they lost out on. Aspiration will simply pass them by.

“So we will take bold action to begin to set that right.

“Not just a break from austerity for my generation, but a boost for aspiration.

“We previously set out different tax choices from both the Tories and the SNP, which we would have used to restore the money lost from tax credit cuts.

“Labour’s victory over the Tories, and Osborne’s retreat on this issue, means that those revenue raisers can be used for other a more positive purpose.

“Austerity has meant years of cuts to services for the public sector, it has meant higher costs of living for families but it has also meant people making compromises, lowering their expectations about what life should bring them.

“So far the debate about austerity has been about how we reverse those cuts and costs, I want it to also be about how we reverse those compromises, how we can return to an economy where people can expect more in life.

“Ambition and aspiration are Labour values. We begin to reclaim them today.

“The only use of new tax powers which the SNP have prioritised is their tax cut for those buying airline tickets. That is the extent of their ambition. A £125 million cut, rising to £250 million, for an industry which is experiencing record passenger numbers across Scotland and which is already receiving a massive financial boost from record low oil prices.

“Even before you consider the environmental impact of this policy it would mean a minimum of £125 million additional cuts - that means adding to austerity rather than ending it. 

“We will use the money to help young people to aspire to owning their own home again.

“So here is the change we plan:

“Today you can save in a first time buyer ISA where savers will receive a 25% top up from the UK government, up to the value of £3,000. This help is welcome to many but still leaves a deposit for a home far out of reach for lower earning young people.

“We will effectively double the help towards saving a deposit for first time buyers, investing an additional £3,000 for first time buyers saving as part of our plan.

“So, take an example of a young couple each saving £100 a month towards a deposit.

“Their savings in their first time buyer ISA, over the three years, would amount to £7,200.

“They will get an additional £1,800 automatically through the ISA.

“We would add an additional £6,000. Taking that couple’s deposit to £15,000.

“This would ensure a young couple would be well on the way to saving a deposit for their first home.

“That is the first choice, the first change we will offer in this election campaign. The chance to own your own home.

“Real change using the power of our parliament.

“It’s big and it’s bold. But the challenges Scotland faces deserve nothing less. Years more of the SNP’s managerial politics and half measures aren’t good enough. We can’t wait for change.

“The SNP response to this policy in the next few days will be telling.

“When we announced our plan to restore tax credits should the Tories cut them, they first claimed it wasn’t possible, then they admitted it was.

“They then claimed it wasn’t affordable, then they admitted that the tax changes we had identified did in fact offer different choices.

“Then they simply told us it was all too difficult.

“It can’t be done. It can’t be afforded. It’s too difficult….The arguments offered by the defenders of the status quo against those of us who want to change things throughout history.

“Well it can be done. It can be afforded. It is only as difficult as finding the will to do it.

“But more than this it must be done.

“We cannot tolerate an economy where people’s ambition is to just to survive, rather than for their family to thrive.

“We cannot let a whole generation miss out on the life their mothers and fathers expected as right.

“A whole generation cannot forever wait for it to be their turn.”