Worries over 'help-to-buy' scheme's withdrawal hammer UK housebuilders' shares

Report claims government could withdraw former chancellor George Osborne's pet project soon.

Report claims UK government could withdraw 'help-to-buy' scheme soon. iStock

Worries over the withdrawal of the government's help-to-buy scheme, ahead of its scheduled expiry date, hammered housebuilders' shares on Friday (4 August).

Former chancellor George Osborne's pet project, which allows first time buyers to get on the property ladder via shared ownership schemes or 5% deposit-backed equity loans under government patronage, was scheduled to end in April 2021.

Osborne announced the scheme in April 2013 with an aim to make house purchases more affordable.

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However, an article in the industry magazine Property Week claimed Prime Minister Theresa May's administration has begun a review of the scheme, with it being "wound down or replaced" well before its scheduled end, among the options on the table.

In response, blue chip housebuilders' shares slumped by over 5% in intraday trading before mounting a marginal recovery.

At 12:34pm BST, Barratt Developments (-3.80%), Persimmon (-3.31%) and Taylor Wimpey (-2.87%) were still among the biggest FTSE 100 fallers.

Midcaps Crest Nicholson (-3.70%), Galliford Try (-3.08%) and Countryside Properties (-2.94%) also headed lower, completing the sector's market rout.

A spokesperson for the Treasury declined comment on what he described as "media speculation."

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