Buy-to-let landlords face shorter CGT payment window

9th July 2018
Where CGT is due, a disposal is normally reported to HMRC in a self-assessment tax return. Under self-assessment, any CGT must be paid by 31 January following the tax year of disposal. The government has noted that (depending on the timing of the sale within a tax year) this allows residential property owners between 10 and 22 months after the sale of the property before the tax is due. Concerned about the length of time before any CGT is paid, HMRC is planning to bring in new rules from April 2020 which will require individuals and trustees disposing of a residential property to make a payment on account of the CGT within 30 days of the completion of the sale. Sellers will have to calculate, report and pay the CGT that they believe is due within that window. As an example, if an owner exchanged contacts for the sale of a house on 15 April 2019 and the sale completed on 15 May 2019, the existing rules would apply and mean that any CGT arising would be due on 31 January 2021. By contrast, under the proposed rules, an exchange of contracts on 15 April 2020 with completion on 15 May 2020 would mean that the CGT had to be paid by 14 June 2020 – over seven months earlier than if the property had been sold in the previous tax year and indeed before any CGT was due for the previous tax year. Jon Stride, co-chair of ATT’s technical steering group, said: ‘The new rules will significantly reduce the amount of time that those selling residential property will have to calculate and pay their CGT bill. CGT computations can be complex and it can take time to establish all the necessary facts to make an accurate computation of the taxable gain. Sellers will need to start gathering information and details of historic costs, or dates of occupation well in advance of the sale.’ ATT says such ‘in year’ reporting can create complications as many individuals will not know what rate of tax will apply at the time of disposal. This is because the applicable tax rate for CGT depends on the individual’s total income for the tax year which can only be estimated at the time of disposal. Equally, individuals may make other disposals in the year liable to CGT which might affect the position. After making an ‘in year’ report, individuals will therefore need to review and revise the computation at the end of the tax year, either as part of their usual self-assessment procedures or via new ‘end of year’ reconciliation process. This will increase the compliance burden for taxpayers. A particular area of concern is the treatment of capital losses, says ATT. Under the current proposals, the taxpayer will only be able to take into account of losses which are known about at the time of disposal. If they incur more capital losses later in the same tax year, then it is likely that the original payment on account of CGT will be found to be too large. However, they will not be able to reclaim any overpayment until after the tax year has finished. This could leave the taxpayer out of pocket for some months, warns ATT. The only time that capital losses realised after the disposal of the property can be taken into account is if the taxpayer disposes of further residential property in the same tax year. ATT points out that when similar ‘in-year’ reporting rules were introduced for non-residents disposing of UK residential property, many individuals only realised they should have reported their disposals earlier when they came to complete their self-assessment return after the end of the tax year. The association’s response to a HMRC consultation on how to administer the CGT changes highlights concerns that UK individuals may also miss the earlier deadline and have asked HMRC to consider a ‘soft-landing’ for penalties in the early years of these new rules. Stride said: ‘If the government wants to accelerate tax payments in order to minimise possible loss to the Exchequer, we would like to see a wider debate on the timing of payment of tax rather than payments on account being introduced in a piecemeal fashion over a number of different assets or income sources. A broader debate would enable HMRC to identify clearly the specific areas of concern and the risks to tax collection and thereby enable identification of possible solutions.’ People selling their only or main home should not be affected by the new rules provided that they are entitled to full private residence relief1 which exempts them from having to pay CGT on the sale.

HMRC delays Making Tax Digital for VAT trial for businesses

26th June 2018
MRC has published a stakeholder communications pack offering guidance about the requirements of Making Tax Digital, which will see VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the registration threshold required to keep and submit digital VAT business records and make digital VAT returns from 1 April 2019. HMRC launched a private pilot of Making Tax Digital for VAT in April 2018, working with software providers in order to test its systems and their products. The guidance suggests this will become a public trial ‘later in 2018’, having previously indicated it could begin this summer. HMRC will not be offering its own software products, but will provide the application programming interfaces (APIs) that commercial software developers will use to develop a range of applications that will enable businesses to keep their records digitally and integrate with HMRC systems. The guidance describes the VAT trial as ‘a private pilot available to invited volunteer VAT businesses and their agents’ and says that ‘for now, we are limiting the number and types of business we invite into the pilot.’ According to HMRC’s latest update, more than 130 software suppliers have told HMRC that they are interested in providing software for Making Tax Digital for VAT, of which over 35 have said they will have software ready during the first phase of the pilot, which involves small numbers of invited businesses and agents. So far, 18 suppliers including Intuit, IRIS, PwC, Xero and Sage, are listed as having tested their products in HMRC’s test environment and having demonstrated a prototype of their software to HMRC. The guidance states: ‘We’ve invited a small number of volunteer VAT businesses who meet a specific set of eligibility criteria to join. Some are represented by agents and others are unrepresented. As we continue testing, we’ll increase the numbers and start to invite businesses with more complex features.’ HMRC also says it will provide more detailed guidance about the operation of Making Tax Digital for VAT after the launch of the public service later this year. In March 2018 HMRC launched a pilot for Making Tax Digital Income Tax pilot on a voluntary basis. It will not be mandatory for businesses until at least 2020. Businesses can sign up if they are a sole trader with income from one business and/or are landlords (except those with furnished holiday lettings). If a business that signs up to Making Tax Digital for income tax has no other income to provide to HMRC they will not need to complete a separate self assessment return for 2018/19. The stakeholder communications pack says: ‘Where additional personal income needs to be reported, such as employment income, bank and building society interest, dividends and gift aid, additional functionality will be made available in the coming months to allow software providers to build this into their products, meaning many more businesses will be able to send all of their additional personal income details using MTD.’ It also states that the income tax pilot ‘continues to be developed and additional functionality to allow more business to join will be released in the coming months’. This will include the ability to report other sources of income through software e.g. bank interest and dividends. Currently there are four approved suppliers on HMRC’s list for Making Tax Digital for income tax: Absolute, Forbes, IRIS and Rhino. HMRC says the communication pack provides information for firms, agents and others, who can use the contents to inform their own communications activity and key messages for their clients, customers or members. As well as explaining the background to Making Tax Digital, it includes details of the pilots and encourages stakeholders to get involved in these, and to ensure that they and their clients are aware of new digital requirements.

Small businesses spend three working weeks on tax compliance

27th February 2018
The average UK small business spends £5,000 and three working weeks every year on tax compliance, according to research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which is calling for the system to be simplified. The survey of over 1,000 small businesses found that almost half (46%) say determining the tax rates at which they are required to pay is a challenge, while 40% find exemptions confusing. VAT, PAYE and employer national insurance contributions (NICs) are identified as the most time-consuming taxes to handle. The average small business spends 95 hours a year complying with the three collectively. More than three quarters (77%) of small firms pay a specialist to ensure their taxes are paid correctly, with almost all opting for a qualified accountant. Almost half (47%) of small firms say business rates have made growing their firm more difficult. The same proportion say corporation tax has hampered expansion, with similar numbers stating that growth has been stifled by employers’ NICs (44%). One in seven (14%) small firms say VAT has prevented expansion completely. When asked about changes that would reduce the tax compliance burden, the majority (53%) say the ability to pay in instalments would make the process more straightforward. A similar proportion (52%) would like to see an early estimation of their tax bill. Four in ten (40%) state that the automation of tax calculations would be useful. Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: ‘We hear a lot about the need to simplify the UK tax code. ‘In fact, our priority should be simplification of the tax compliance process. Small firms by and large understand a tax like VAT, for example, but the sheer complexity of VAT administration means they spend 44 hours a year filing returns. ‘It’s no wonder the majority end up shelling out for expert help.’ A quarter of survey respondents (27%) currently seek online tax advice from HMRC and just 19% make telephone contact, with a number of businesses highlighting issues with response times. Cherry said: ‘The rollout of making tax digital needs to be seen as an opportunity to radically improve the small business user experience of HMRC.’ The Taxing Times report also reveals that the majority (55%) of small firms are not aware of tax reliefs available to them. Most (73%) have not heard of either the business rates relief offered to those based in enterprise zones, or the enhanced capital allowance, which encourages investment in clean technologies. The most familiar tax reliefs to small firms are small business rates relief, which more than three quarters (78%) are aware of or have claimed, and standard capital allowances (66%). The dividend allowance (51%) is also popular. Cherry said: ‘There are lots of useful tax reliefs out there but many small firms simply don’t know they exist or don’t have the expertise to access them. ‘Lots of firms actually employ consultancies to help them apply for R&D tax credits, for example. When applications are complex, it’s big firms, not time-strapped small business owners, which stand to gain. ‘There needs to be a real push from local and central government to ensure small firms are aware of all the reliefs available.’

HMRC urged to plug the gap on electric car charging

17th January 2018
At the Autumn Budget 2017, it was announced that, from April 2018, there will be no benefit in kind charge on electricity that employers provide to charge employees’ own electric vehicles. However, this exemption was not included in the Finance Bill published in December 2017 which is currently passing through Parliament. HMRC have now confirmed to the ATT that the intention is to include this exemption in the next planned finance bill, instead, which will be announced and published in the autumn of 2018. The legislation will be retrospective so that the tax exemption applies from 6 April 2018. Yvette Nunn, co-chair of ATT’s technical steering group, said: ‘The delay in legislating for this exemption puts both employers and employees in an uncertain position because it will come into force before they see any of the details. ‘It would be a pity if this initiative to increase the use of electric cars falls flat because some employers are unaware of how to apply it or promote it due to a lack of information. There is also the risk that employers and employees may not be aware of this initiative, which means it does not get used.’ ATT is not expecting Finance Bill 2018 to be published until the end of 2018. Draft legislation may be published for consultation this summer but even that will be several months after the exemption is intended to take effect. Nunn said: ‘The ATT is urging HMRC to provide guidance to employers and employees as soon as possible so that they can have certainty over the tax treatment of employer-provided charging from the start of the tax year. This should include a commitment to an effective date of 6 April 2018, together with as much detail as possible on any potential exclusions or conditions.’

HMRC consults on Making Tax Digital VAT rules

23rd December 2017
There is a main consultation on draft amendments to the VAT regulations and a draft VAT notice about keeping digital records and providing VAT returns using compatible software, as the first stage of the planned implementation of its Making Tax Digital programme. The proposed secondary legislation would make changes to the VAT regime, effective from 1 April 2019. Businesses with taxable turnover above the VAT registration threshold now fixed at £85,000 will have to keep digital records and submit VAT returns using compatible software. In addition there is a proposed addendum to the draft VAT Notice, setting out how businesses could use compatible software alongside spreadsheets to provide VAT returns. The proposed legislation requires VAT registered businesses to keep an electronic account of information specified in the amended regulations and use an approved form of software to prepare and deliver returns. These obligations will not apply to businesses if their VAT taxable turnover for the previous 12 months is below the VAT registration threshold in force at the start of the next month. Once the threshold is exceeded, the obligations will commence from the business’s next return period. However, once any business is caught by these regulations, then even if the business’s VAT taxable turnover subsequently falls below the exemption threshold they will still be obliged to keep and preserve digital records and provide VAT returns using functional compatible software unless and until they deregister from VAT. The regulations provide exemptions based on turnover, an inability to use electronic systems for religious or practical reasons and for businesses subject to insolvency, but exempt businesses may opt for the obligations in the amended regulations to apply to them if they wish. The amended regulations also provide rules for how business records should be preserved. Originally Making Tax Digital was to apply to all businesses but the government announced on 13 July 2017 that, for the time being, only businesses above the VAT registration threshold will participate in Making Tax Digital from 1 April 2019. The rest of quarterly reporting requirements will not be introduced before tax year 2021-22 at the earliest. The consultation closes on 9 February 2018.

HMRC stops use of personal credit card to pay employer PAYE penalties

13th October 2017
HMRC has confirmed that employers will not be able to pay PAYE penalties with a personal credit card from 13 January 2018. It will continue to accept payments by company credit card or debit card, as well as BACS payments. All payments must include the 14 or 15 character payment reference that begins with X and is on the payslip. Payments may be delayed if the wrong reference is used. It will also not accept part payments by credit or debit card so any employers who are unable to make full payment by card will have to pay a different way, through telephone banking, CHAPS or Bacs using sort code 08 32 10, account number 12001020 via HMRC Shipley account. Faster payments (online or telephone banking) usually reach HMRC on the same or next day, including weekends and bank holidays. CHAPS reach HMRC on the same working day if paid within bank’s processing times while Bacs payments take three working days. The slowest way to pay is via direct debit which takes five working days to arrive. HMRC also charge a fee for credit card payments. The facility to pay HMRC through a Post Office will be withdrawn from 15 December 2017. HMRC will accept payment on the date made, not the date it reaches HMRC’s account (including bank holidays and weekends). HMRC limits the number of credit and debit card payments that can be made to any single tax regime within a given period of time, so that only a reasonable number of payments can be made. The definition of what the actual limit on number of payments is vague. The HMRC guidance states that the tax authority ‘will decide what is reasonable by checking payment card industry standards and guidance and may withdraw the facility to pay by credit or debit card from any customer who tries to bypass the limit’. HMRC Guidance, Pay other HMRC taxes, penalties or enquiry settlements

Partnership tax rules overhaul by 2018

15th September 2017

This measure makes changes to the income tax calculations of certain partnerships and is part of a wider policy of government to tighten the tax rules for partnerships.

 

The draft legislation is now out and the Treasury says that this ‘provides additional clarity over aspects of the taxation of partnerships’.

 

But it will raise costs for partnerships, as partners and some partnerships may be required to calculate partnership profit on all four possible bases of calculation (for example, UK resident individual, non-UK resident individual, UK resident company and non-UK resident company), and report these in the partnership return.

 

There will be some winners as around 1,300 investment partnerships will no longer have provide a tax reference for partners who have no charge to tax or business activity.

 

HMRC expects that there will be ‘fewer interventions, as a result of clarifying various partnership rules and requiring partners to return the profit/loss allocation shown on the partnership return, which will generate operational savings’.

 

Partners will be able to refer profit/loss allocation disputes to the tribunal. HMRC is going to set up a new IT referral system for partners to notify them about disputes referred to the tribunal, which is likely to cost up to £100,000 to develop.

 

The rules for the allocation of partnership profits and losses will have effect for accounting periods and periods of account starting after the date of Royal Assent to Finance Bill 2017. Likewise the changes to returns for overseas partners in investment partnerships will have effect for returns made after enactment of the Bill.

 

Other changes will have effect for 2018-19 returns.

 

The main issues focus on how the current rules and reporting operate in particular circumstances where a partnership has partners who are bare trustees for another person or that are partnerships; and the allocation and calculation of partnership profit for tax purposes.

 

Under the new rules, ‘the provisions ensure that partnership returns contain sufficient information to facilitate HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) assurance work,’ the Treasury stated.

 

In addition, the measure makes it clear that the allocation of partnership profits shown on the partnership return is the allocation that applies for tax purposes for the partners but provides a new, structured mechanism for the resolution of disputes between partners over the allocation of taxable partnership profits and losses shown on the partnership return.

 

It also reduces the amount of information which has to be shown on the partnership return for investment partnerships that report under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and who have non-UK resident partners who are not chargeable to tax in the UK.

 

The measure was first announced at Budget 2016 and was subject to a consultation published in August 2016, entitled Partnership taxation: proposals to clarify tax treatment.

 

Policy paper, HMRC Partnership taxation: proposals to clarify tax treatment is available here.

Making Tax Digital

14th August 2017

The government has announced a revised timetable for the introduction of Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB).

 

MTDfB introduces extensive changes to how taxpayers record and report income to HMRC. Unincorporated businesses, including landlords, were expected to be the first to see significant changes in the recording and submission of business transactions but the government has announced a delay to the implementation of the new rules and some exceptions for smaller businesses.

 

The government had decided how the general principles of MTDfB will operate after receiving responses to their original ideas first published in August 2016. Some legislation was published in Finance Bill 2017 but this was removed due to the General Election.

Under MTDfB, businesses will be required to:

 

  • maintain their records digitally, through software or apps
  • report summary information to HMRC quarterly through their ‘digital tax accounts’ (DTAs)
  • submit an ‘End of Year’ statement through their DTAs.

 

The new timetable is being introduced following concerns raised by the Treasury Select Committee, businesses and professional bodies about the implementation of the new rules and to hopefully ensure a smooth transition to a digital tax system.

Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General said:

‘Businesses agree that digitising the tax system is the right direction of travel. However, many have been worried about the scope and pace of reforms. 
We have listened very carefully to their concerns and are making changes so that we can bring the tax system into the digital age in a way that is right for all businesses.’

 

The government has confirmed that under the new timetable:

  • only businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to keep digital records and only for VAT purposes
  • they will only need to do so from 2019
  • businesses will not be asked to keep digital records, or to update HMRC quarterly, for other taxes until at least 2020.

 

This means that businesses and landlords with a turnover below the VAT threshold will not have to move to the new digital system.

Ministers have also confirmed that the Finance Bill will be introduced as soon as possible after the summer recess and that all policies originally announced to start from April 2017 will be effective from that date.

 

The government has also confirmed that the proposed changes to VAT reporting will come into effect from April 2019. From that date, businesses trading above the VAT threshold will have to provide their VAT information to HMRC through Making Tax Digital software.

Making Tax Digital delayed until ‘at least’ 2020 except for VAT

14th July 2017

The original plan from the government and HMRC would have forced the smallest businesses and sole traders to start quarterly reporting from April 2017, but those below the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will now be exempt from requirements to quarterly report until the government can reassess the plans.

 

Vociferous opposition to the rollout timetable from MPs, business and the influential Treasury Committee has resulted in the climbdown.

 

There will also be a one-year delay for the wider rollout, with an April 2019 start date for businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) to start keeping digital records but only for VAT purposes.

Full-blown quarterly reporting will not start before ‘at least 2020’ according to the ministerial statement.

 

Changes at the Treasury after the election seem to have resulted in a more sensible approach to the whole Making Tax Digital debacle. 

 

The new minister in charge of Making Tax Digital, Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury said: ‘Businesses agree that digitising the tax system is the right direction of travel. However, many have been worried about the scope and pace of reforms.

 

‘We have listened very carefully to their concerns and are making changes so that we can bring the tax system into the digital age in a way that is right for all businesses.’

 

It is likely that at least until 2020 Making Tax Digital will not be mandatory, and nearer the time (2020) the Treasury plans to reassess the situation and review mandatory requirements.

 

This will leave HMRC with a hole to fill as it had expected Making Tax Digital to generate an additional £500m in tax revenues a year, although many tax experts doubted whether this could be achieved, unless there was widespread abuse of the current system which the new digital reporting closed down.

 

The deferral will give more time for testing the system and HMRC will start the pilot for Making Tax Digital for VAT by the end of this year – this will give the tax profession time to test run a year’s worth of reporting before the VAT system goes live.

 

A Treasury source said that ‘the main concern is the pace of the change. We recognise that businesses need longer to adapt and so that is why we are saying that companies will not have to use quarterly reporting until at least 2020. VAT reporting under Making Tax Digital will be mandatory from 2019 but as companies already report VAT on a quarterly basis this will not be a major change.’

 

While the Treasury is totally behind the plans for digital tax reporting it is in listening mode and so has decided to back off the rather rapid timetable for introduction originally set out by HMRC and government officials. 

 

This will also give HMRC more time to pilot quarterly reporting as there is only a limited pilot at the moment and some testing by software developers with their clients.

 

Software companies have welcomed the delay but warn that the government must not be complacent; the general lack of communications about the rollout of Making Tax Digital raised concerns with recent surveys of software clients showing low levels of awareness of the plans for Making Tax Digital.

 

In terms of quarterly reporting for incorporated businesses and large partnerships, ‘larger businesses will have to use Making Tax Digital for VAT only, regardless of the type of business, but not before at least 2020. Larger businesses will not have use Making Tax Digital for corporation tax reporting before at least 2020, although it is still not wholly clear whether they will ever have to enter the system due to the complexity of their tax compliance requirements.

 

Making Tax Digital will be available on a voluntary basis for the smallest businesses, and for other taxes. Businesses and landlords with a turnover below the VAT threshold will be able to opt to use the new digital reporting system but it will not be mandatory until ‘at least’ 2020.

 

The Treasury document states that under the new timetable:

 

  • only businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to keep digital records and only for VAT purposes;
  • they will only need to do so from 2019; and
  • businesses will not be asked to keep digital records, or to update HMRC quarterly, for other taxes until at least 2020.

 

As VAT already requires quarterly returns, no business will need to provide information to HMRC more regularly during this initial phase than they do now.

All businesses and landlords will have at least two years to adapt to the changes before being asked to keep digital records for other taxes.

 

HMRC will start to pilot Making Tax Digital for VAT by the end of this year, starting with small-scale, private testing, followed by a wider, live pilot starting in spring 2018. This will allow for over a year of testing before any businesses are mandated to use the system.

 

The current pilots for non-VAT Making Tax Digital and quarterly reporting have been criticised as being too slow and lacking depth so the decision to delay the programme for at three years will be a major relief for tax advisers, accountants and small businesses.

 

John Preston, CIOT president, said: ‘Whilst we are supportive of the government’s long-term ambitions for digitalising the tax system, we have always called for this to be achieved in a measured and manageable way.

 

‘This deferral will give much more time for businesses, supported by their advisers, to identify for themselves, at their own pace, the benefits of digital record keeping. It will also ensure that many more software products can be developed and tested before mandation is reconsidered.’

 

Ministers also confirmed that the Finance Bill will be introduced as soon as possible after the summer recess. This will legislate for all policies that were included in the pre-election Finance Bill, raising over £16bn across the next five years to fund our vital public services. The wash-up Finance Act before the snap general election in June was a slimmed down version of the planned legislation, stripping out all but the most critical changes to tax rates and reliefs, and removing any complex tax changes due to the lack of time for effective scrutiny in parliament and through select committees.

 

The government has also re-confirmed that all policies originally announced to start from April 2017 will be effective from that date, including the changes to non dom rules and loss relief reform. Draft legislation for the Second Finance Bill will be issued today. 

Number of buy-to-let properties available to rent shrinks

25th June 2017

According to Home.co.uk, Scotland has seen the biggest fall with a 34.7% decrease in available properties to rent between July 2001 and June 2017. Wales has seen a fall of 28.1% while the south west has seen a decline of 26.5%.

 

Overall, seven out of 11 UK regions saw a fall in excess of the UK average. This includes a decrease of 24.6% in the East Midlands, a fall of 20.8% in the South East and a drop of 16.7% in the West Midlands.

 

Only the North East saw a rise in rental properties with 33.4% properties available to rent.

Due to people no longer being able to afford to buy they have no choice but to rent, this along with legislative changes in the sector mean that the number of rental properties available are falling.

 

Some landlords are selling up or downsizing their portfolios simply to avoid making a loss, resulting in falling supply, and those that remain in the sector are forced to raise their rents.

 

From April 2017, buy-to-let landlords are unable to offset their mortgage interest against their profits and over the next three years none of this interest will be tax deductible. The recent hike in stamp duty land tax (SDLT) has also hit landlords.

 

Due to these changes landlords have had to raise their rents. Wales has seen rents increase by 11.3% over the last year and, during the same period, Yorkshire has seen rents rise by 8.4%. In Scotland the last six months have seen an increase of 5.4% in the average rent.

 

In the South West rents are up 5.7% over the last 12 months while in the South East the average rent increase is 0.9% and in the East Midlands the rise over the same period has been 4.5%.

 

From April 2016 to March 2017 the median monthly rent in England recorded by the Valuation Office Agency was £675. The median rent in London (£1,495) was more than double the English median rent with the North East having the lowest median rent at £495.

 

Home.co.uk director Doug Shephard said: ‘It is ironic that the government’s justification for tax changes in the private rental sector was to ‘level the playing field’ for wannabe homeowners. The result of this barrage of red tape and taxation, at both local and national government levels, has meant that the supply of rental properties has fallen behind demand in most regions thereby driving up rents.

 

‘The “elephant in the room” for the government is that record low mortgage interest rates have driven unprecedented investment in the private rental sector over recent years. Simply put, those already with significant home equity have been able to come up with deposits for properties intended to let whilst aspiring homeowners are as cash-strapped as ever as they pay out huge sums in rent. However, ultra-low interest rates and the associated pain for renters look set to persist for the foreseeable future.’

 

Over 285,000 homeowners, including 240,000 first time buyers, were able to buy their homes with support from the government’s Help to Buy schemes. The average house price across the scheme is £193,826, which is below the average UK house price, and 90% of completions have taken place outside of London.

Stephen Barclay, Economic Secretary to the Treasury said: ‘We want to make sure that anyone who works hard and aspires to own their own home has that opportunity. That is why I am delighted that our Help to Buy schemes have now helped over 240,000 first time buyers across the country achieve home ownership.’

 

More than 120,000 completions have now taken place through the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme, which offers buyers up to 20% of a newly-built home’s costs so they only need to provide a 5% deposit.

 

The North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the South West have seen the highest number of property completions using the Help to Buy: ISA. In total, 62,528 completions across the UK using the ISA bonus have taken place since launch in December 2015.