UPDATE 1-Persimmon practices in govt house-funding scheme under fire-source

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EDINBURGH, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Britain’s housing minister James Brokenshire is pressing builder Persimmon on how it operates within a public funding scheme for new house buyers as a review of the scheme comes due, a source close to the minister said on Saturday.

Brokenshire was “increasingly concerned” by practices at Persimmon regarding the “Help to Buy” scheme, the source said. The group is Britain’s second-biggest housebuilder with revenue of 3.74 billion pounds ($4.9 billion) last year, up 4 percent.

However the company – along with some others in the sector – has attracted criticism for practices such as selling houses with rising leasehold charges which make them hard or impossible to sell on, and for poor quality workmanship.

“Leasehold, build quality, their leadership seemingly not getting they’re accountable to their customers, are all points that have been raised by (the minister) privately,” the source said, echoing a report in The Times newspaper.

“Given that contracts for the 2021 extension to Help to Buy are being reviewed shortly, which overall is a great scheme helping hundreds of thousands of people into home ownership, it would be surprising if Persimmon’s approach wasn’t a point of discussion,” the source added.

No-one at Persimmon was available to comment.

Labour opposition lawmaker Clive Betts has called for a review of the funding scheme, which offers buyers the chance to buy a new-build home with a small deposit, amid what he called questionable practices at Persimmon.

Persimmon’s chief executive stood down last year after criticism of his 100 million dollar bonus package, after its corporate performance was helped by the public scheme. ($1 = 0.7662 pounds) (Reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary Editing by Toby Chopra and David Holmes)


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