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Help to Buy gives 1,400 a boost to get on property ladder

The Help to Buy scheme enables buyers to purchase homes with the help of equity loans from the Welsh Government. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Almost 1,400 homes have been bought through the Welsh Help to Buy scheme since it was launched last year, according to figures released this morning.

The £170 million scheme allows first-time buyers and home-movers to buy new-build homes with assistance from the Welsh Government in the form of a shared equity loan.

Between January 2014 and March 2015, the Welsh Government provided £48.7million in equity loans, helping buyers purchase 1,378 homes worth a total of £245.7million. The majority of those using the scheme were first time buyers.

As well as helping people progress on the property ladder, the scheme has also proved to be great news for the housing industry, with 174 builders of all sizes across the country now offering Help to Buy - Wales shared equity loans on their properties.

With almost 1,400 completed sales and around 600 more in the pipeline, we’re on track to meet our ambition of supporting the completion of 5,000 new homes across Wales.

– Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty

The scheme is now being extended beyond March 31st 2016.


House prices in Cardiff rising faster than London

House prices in many of the UK's largest regional cities, including Cardiff, are rising at a faster rate than those in central London for the first time in a decade.

Average house price in Cardiff is now £178,200 up by 6.7%. Credit: PA

The growth in property values was due to ultra-low mortgage rates and growing consumer confidence in regional cities says Hometrack's report.

But political uncertainty, the possibility of a mansion tax and affordability pressures were taking their toll on London's most expensive boroughs.

In March, year-on-year house price growth was 7.6% in Glasgow, 6.8% in Manchester, 6.6% in Leeds, 9.7% in Bristol and 6.7% in Cardiff.

Hometrack said it was the first time since 2005 that it had recorded major cities outside central London out-performing boroughs in the heart of the capital.

Here are the average prices of a house in the UK's major cities in March, followed by the year-on-year rate of price growth, according to Hometrack:

  • Oxford, £373,100, 13.4%
  • Glasgow, £111,700, 7.6%
  • Leeds, £145,400, 6.6%
  • London (including the surrounding commuter areas), £417,500, 11.8%
  • Manchester, £138,700, 6.8%
  • Sheffield, £126,100, 6.3%
  • Newcastle, £121,800, 5.0%
  • Liverpool, £109,900, 3.5%
  • Birmingham, £135,000, 5.2%
  • Bristol, £219,500, 9.7%
  • Leicester, £142,600, 5.2%
  • Nottingham, £126,600, 5.8%
  • Bournemouth, £239,700, 5.6%
  • Portsmouth, £193,200, 6.7%
  • Cardiff, £178,200, 6.7%
  • Edinburgh, £193,400, 5.3%
  • Southampton, £192,300, 6.8%
  • Belfast, £113,100, 5.2%
  • Cambridge, £347,400, 7.4%
  • Aberdeen, £187,500, 7.8%

Welsh Conservatives pledge to increase tax allowance

Following the launch of their manifesto in Builth Wells on Friday, the Welsh Conservatives have outlined their plans to increase the personal tax allowance to £12,500 in the next Parliament.

The Conservatives say their plan will deliver for workers and their families Credit: PA

The party said increasing the allowance to £12,500, and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 would allow people to keep more of their 'hard-earned money'.

The Conservatives are also pledging to make people who work 30 hours a week on minimum wage exempt from income tax altogether.

The next Conservative Government will make people on the lowest incomes in Wales exempt from paying income tax. Raising the personal threshold is a really practical way of boosting take-home pay and rewarding hardworking people.

– Stephen Crabb, Secretary of State for Wales


Budget 2015: Parties clash on what it will mean for Wales

The Wales Office has set our how the UK Government claims Wales will benefit from the Budget. Key points include:

  • The increased income tax allowance means 1.2 million Welsh people will be an average £561 better off in 2017 than in 2010.
  • Motorists will benefit from the abolition of VAT on Severn Bridges tolls.
  • Talks about a guaranteed price for electricity from a Swansea Bay tidal lagoon could lead to investment in the Welsh economy and the crration of new jobs.
  • An extra £18 milion for the Welsh Government to spend in 2015-16.

This is a Budget to help secure Wales' future. It is a Budget that will cement the economic recovery in Wales, that backs business in Wales and that will make a real difference to the lives of hardworking people right across our nation. It comes on the day that unemployment is falling and more people in Wales are benefiting from the security of a meaningful job, a regular wage and a better standard of living.

– Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb MP

But the Shadow Welsh Secretary, Owen Smith, condemned what he called "another dodgy budget from this dodgy Tory Chancellor".

Wales can only look forward to more cuts if the Tories win again in May. The Office of Budget Responsibility confirms that George Osborne is now planning to make even bigger cuts to public services in the next Parliament than he made in this one. That will mean massive cuts to Wales and to the police, the schools and the hospitals that we all rely on. There is no way that Wales can afford five more years of the Tories and Liberals bunging tax cut to their mates in the hedge funds, while increasing VAT and prices for working class families.

– Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP

Plaid Cymru's Treasury spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards, also accused the Chancellor of "sharpening the axe for billions more cuts to public services".

This was a 'jam tomorrow' Budget from a Chancellor who is busy sharpening the axe ready for the next parliament. The pre-election giveaways designed to pander to the Tory core vote mask the reality that in the next Parliament, our public services are set to suffer billions more austerity cuts supported by Labour.

– Plaid Cymru Treasury Spokesman Jonathan Edwards MP

The Liberal Democrats highlighted the increased income tax allowance as one of their policies, achieved by going into coalition with the Conservatives. However, they said that it wasn't enough to merely remove the VAT on the Severn Bridges tolls.

Yet again, we’re delivering further on our flagship income tax cut – straight from the front page of our manifesto into the pockets of millions of low and middle income workers. This is the first time the UK Government has recognised the detrimental impact tolls have on jobs and businesses across south Wales, and I very much welcome that. But Liberal Democrats would go much further, and if in government after the election we would scrap the tolls completely once the bridges return to public ownership in 2018.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Willott
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