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The Scottish Government is taking action to stimulate the housing market through the £220 million help to buy (Scotland) scheme, which can help more people, including first and second-time home buyers, to meet their home ownership aspirations by supporting them to access the market. The scheme is intended to support demand, stimulate further construction by the industry and support employment and, in a survey carried out in April 2013, Homes for Scotland forecast that it would stimulate a net increase in total housing output by 10 per cent over a three-year period, which is equivalent to approximately 3,000 additional homes.
I thank the cabinet secretary for that answer, but with the help to buy scheme in England pushing up house prices and given the housing crisis in Scotland does he agree that the help to buy scheme in Scotland could make things harder for first-time buyers over the medium to long term?
I do not agree with Mary Fee’s concluding point. A range of different measures, including the help to buy scheme here and the land and buildings transaction tax that the Government proposed and which the Parliament has endorsed to provide greater support to first-time buyers in entering the market, are all designed to assist people in owning their homes for the first time.
With regard to the wider debate, the Government has given emphatic support to investment in housing provision in Scotland. Indeed, we have planned to invest £970 million in affordable housing in the three years up to 2014-15, and that will contribute significantly to tackling the major issue of the availability of housing that meets the needs of individuals in Scotland.