The Government have helped more than 300,000 first-time buyers to buy a home through our Help to Buy scheme, which includes the help to buy ISA, the help to buy equity loan and now the lifetime ISA. At the autumn budget I went further by abolishing stamp duty land tax for first-time buyers on property up to £300,000. Over 69,000 first-time buyers have already benefited from this change and we expect to help over 1 million first-time buyers over five years—and I remind my right hon. Friend that the Labour party voted against that measure.
Many younger homeowners will I am sure be delighted that the Government have cut stamp duty for 95% of first-time buyers. Can the Chancellor say how the rate of creating first-time buyers compares with previous periods, as keeping alive the dream of home ownership for many is essential for the long-term health of our society?
I can tell my right hon. Friend that under the last Labour Government, the number of people achieving home ownership fell by 61%. I think Labour’s position is clear. The Leader of the Opposition has described home ownership as a national obsession; for the Government it is a national priority. We are helping hundreds of thousands of people across the country to achieve the dream of owning their own home, and that is why I am proud that, under a Conservative Government, the number of first-time buyers is now at an 11-year high.
We have a £9 billion affordable homes programme, and we announced a £2 billion uplift in that programme last autumn. We have increased additional flexibilities to allow building for social rent and to relax the housing revenue account caps on local authorities in the highest demand areas. This Government’s programme to deliver the homes this country needs achieved 217,000 net additional dwellings last year and is on track to deliver 300,000 net additional dwellings a year by the middle of the 2020s.
It is indeed commendable that the policies the Chancellor has brought to the House and made into law have been of enormous benefit to my constituents. Will he intensify his efforts in helping not only first-time buyers but those who find it difficult to afford houses? Can he perhaps say a few words on what he might do for them?
The key to dealing with the challenge that my hon. Friend outlines is to ensure improvements in the supply of housing. We have a consultation under way on the national planning policy framework, which will get more houses built, and we have measures to support demand by making Help to Buy equity loans available to those who are seeking to enter the housing market. This Government will remain committed to increasing the supply and to supporting those who need help, in order to make effective demand in this market.
Our objective is to increase supply, not to increase the profits of house builders. To do that, we need to ensure that the planning system can be responsive to the demand that we are creating by supporting people with measures such as Help to Buy equity loans, and that is what we intend to do through the national planning policy framework changes.