Budget 'does not help first-timers as much as it could'

The government’s 2008 budget did not go far enough to help first-time buyers get a foot on the housing ladder, according to the Home Builders Federation (HBF).

Its chairman Stewart Baseley believes that while stamp duty relief for those entering shared ownership schemes is a welcome move the chancellor has left the majority of first time buyers "high and dry" by failing to raise the stamp duty threshold.

Stamp duty used to be less of a problem for Scottish first-time buyers than those elsewhere in the UK, particularly in the south. However the spiralling price of property in Scotland over recent years means more people are getting caught in the net.

Grant Pollock, managing partner at Edinburgh-based Johnston Financial Services, told the Financial Times that finding Scottish property under the one per cent stamp duty band of £125,000 was virtually impossible now.

The HBF believes the stamp duty threshold should be raised to $250,000 which, it claims, would make 90 per cent of first-time buyers exempt from the tax.