Amendments put forward to extend the 20% discount on starter homes

Peers in the House of Lords have tabled potential amendments to the government’s controversial starter homes policy.

Last Thursday during the committee scrutiny stage, peers put forward two potential changes to the starter homes policy designed to extend the 20% discount period beyond the government’s proposed five year cut-off point.

Starter homes – which will be sold at 20% off the market rate and capped at £450,000 in London and £250,000 elsewhere – are a key plank of the government’s housing and planning bill.

Among the potential changes put forward was a Labour amendment to enforce the 20% discount “in perpetuity”.

A further crossbench proposal, supported by Labour, was to make the 20% discount on starter homes subject to a restriction if the property is sold. The discount will have to be paid back upon sale but reduced by 1% per year for a period of 20 years.

The House of Lords committee reading of the bill is set to run until Parliament’s Easter recess, after which point peers will finalise its preferred list of amendments.

It will then be up to the government to adopt or contest the amendments – should it choose the latter route, the amendments will be debated and voted on in both the Lords and the Commons.

The starter homes policy has proved controversial, with four in five local authorities rejecting the Conservatives’ assertion that they should be classed as affordable.

Last month, Bovis chief executive David Ritchie told Building he was concerned the five year duration for the 20% discount on starter homes could distort the second-hand housing market.

The bill has come under sustained fire in the House of Lords. In a debate in January crossbench peer Sir Bob Kerslake, a former boss of the Homes and Communities Agency, said the bill amounted to social housing “being written out of the script”.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis said, when the bill was laid in parliament, that it was a historic moment “kick-starting a national crusade to get 1 million homes built by 2020”.