A new wave of homes will go on the market from today at a 30% discount as part of a controversial Tory scheme for first-time buyers.
The first ’First Homes’ will start being advertised in Bolsover, East Midlands, and be celebrated with a visit from Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
Buyers on a household income up to £80,000 – £90,000 in London – will be able to buy the new-build homes at a 30% discount, and be forced to pass on the price cut when they sell them in future.
Councils will have the choice to lower the income cap, or target First Homes at key workers or people with local connections.
But charity and council chiefs have sounded the alarm over the scheme – as they fear it could reduce affordable housing for people who still can’t afford to buy.
Guidance released last week says First Homes will have to take up at least 25% of affordable housing quotas in future.
That has led to fears that the scheme could end up reducing the amount of social housing or other homes for affordable rent.
The guidance adds councils that have been given ‘section 106’ cash for affordable housing could end up paying it back to developers, to compensate them for the 30% price cut and turn a normal home into a ‘First Home’.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, told the Mirror: “The Prime Minister’s focus on getting a few more people to get onto the property ladder is the wrong approach.
“The government plan for First Homes risks pushing desperately needed social homes out, at a time when there are far more people teetering on the brink of homelessness, than homeownership.
“What we desperately need is a housing system that works for everyone.
“There are millions of people who will never be in the financial position to buy a home – even with a 30% discount off an incredibly high price tag.”
Local Government Association spokesman David Renard added: “It is important that the First Homes scheme does not come at the expense of providing truly affordable homes for rent.
“Councils fully support the aspiration of people wanting to buy their own home and helping those that want to buy to be able to.
“Everyone has the right to live in a safe and secure home they can afford. However, not everybody is able to, or aspires to own their own home.
“Councils need to be able to ensure a mix of homes and tenures are available in their local area, including homes for sale, social homes and other affordable homes.”
The government said further First Homes sites will launch across England in the coming weeks, with more than 1,500 homes to enter the market from the autumn.
Officials say at least 10,000 First Homes a year will be delivered in the years ahead.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Thanks to First Homes, we will offer more homes to local people and families, providing a route for first-time buyers to stay in their local areas rather than being forced out due to rising prices.
“First Homes will also support our fantastic key workers who are looking to get their first foot on the housing ladder – from front-line doctors and nurses to delivery drivers and supermarket staff – by giving many of them the chance to buy a home at a 30% discount.
“These homes will be locked in for perpetuity to first-time buyers and key workers from their local area – making them an asset to both their owners and the wider local community.”