First-time Home Buyers

– in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd March 2011.

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Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

5. To ask the First Minister what support the Scottish Government is offering to first-time home buyers. (S3F-2986)

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has supported a variety of schemes over the past four years to help first-time buyers, such as the new supply shared-equity scheme, the open market shared-equity scheme, shared ownership and schemes to provide ownership support in rural areas. Over that time, we have supported more than 6,400 households to buy a home, compared with just over 4,000 households in the previous four years.

Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

The First Minister did not mention the Scottish National Party’s 2007 manifesto commitment to introduce a grant of £2,000 for first-time home buyers. He could not mention it because he did not offer it. When we return to this place in six weeks or so, will the First Minister—from the Opposition benches—support Labour’s plans to offer real support to first-time home buyers to get a foot on the property ladder, which is a measure that is supported by many in the financial services and construction industries?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

How churlish: Andy Kerr forgot to mention SNP-led East Lothian Council, which has introduced just such a scheme in the last week. Our investment of £300 million over the past four years was made through the schemes that I mentioned, such as the new supply and open market shared-equity schemes, shared ownership and the rural home ownership grants.

As Andy Kerr well knows, we put the “Firm Foundations: the Future of Housing in Scotland” document out to consultation and a range of experts and organisations told us to devote the resources to those schemes. They also told us to restart a council house building programme, which is why we have provided funding over the past four years for 3,300 council houses. The Labour Party, as Andy Kerr will well remember, managed to build six.

Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Scottish National Party

Does the First Minister agree that getting on to the housing ladder would be considerably easier had Labour ensured a proper supply across all tenures during its time in office? The Scottish people will examine the SNP Government’s record on housing, as well as that of the previous Labour Executive. Which record does the First Minister think offers a more promising future for housing in the next parliamentary session?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

The SNP’s record, which is what people in the housing sector think, too. When the member was making her point, I heard another sedentary intervention from Andy Kerr, denying the fact that Labour refused to build the houses for its housing policy. I find that quite remarkable because, in an unexpected moment of candour, Iain Gray said in The Herald on 21 August 2008 that the previous Administration had

“the best homelessness legislation in the world, but we didn’t build the housing to make it work.”

Even the Labour Party leader admits that Labour did not build the houses and I think that the Scottish people will come to the same conclusion.