Jeremy Hunt ‘to offer support for first-time buyers’ ahead of autumn Budget

It comes as the chancellor was forced to deny rumours he is planning to quit as an MP at the next general election because he fears losing his seat

Archie Mitchell
Sunday 22 October 2023 18:03 BST
Jeremy Hunt says government is not in position to consider ‘big tax cuts’

Jeremy Hunt is considering a support package to help first-time buyers onto the property ladder ahead of next month’s Budget.

The chancellor and Treasury officials are said to be discussing measures including extending the government’s mortgage guarantee scheme and creating a new type of individual savings account (Isa) targeted at people looking to build up a deposit to buy their first home.

A Treasury source told The Independent that discussions are ongoing and any package would depend on the state of the country’s finances ahead of the fiscal statement.

But, downplaying the likelihood of a major shake-up, the source stressed the “fiscal picture does not look good at the moment”.

It came as Mr Hunt was forced to deny rumours he plans to quit as an MP at the next general election, for fear of losing his seat on polling day. The Observer reported that the chancellor feared he could suffer a “Michael Portillo” moment, in which cabinet minister Michael Portillo lost his seat to Labour candidate Stephen Twigg in 1997.

A spokesman for Mr Hunt said: “Jeremy Hunt will stand as the Conservative Party candidate for Godalming and Ash at the next general election.”

Mr Hunt’s support package for first-time buyers comes following growing concern about the affordability of homes, with interest rates expected to remain high throughout 2024.

The chancellor is expected to unveil a 12-month extension to the mortgage guarantee, in which the government underwrites some of the risk for lenders taking on buyers to help more borrowers gain approval, The Times reported.

The Treasury is also considering a new type of Isa which would encourage people to save for a deposit for their first home.

Sources told the newspaper that Mr Hunt has ruled out a revival of the Help to Buy scheme, which gave buyers a loan of up to a fifth of the value of a house, on the grounds it could fuel inflation.

The plans come as the Conservatives and Labour increasingly battle over the housing crisis facing Britain, with Sir Keir Starmer promising to build 300,000 homes a year if he becomes prime minister.

Backbench Tory MPs have backed Sir Keir’s approach, while former PM Liz Truss has called for Britain to build 500,000 new homes a year.

Mr Hunt will deliver his budget in parliament on November 22.

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