I'm desperate to get on the property ladder but first-time buyers need more help from the Government

"We are just living. It's impossible to save if you are renting."
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A woman desperate to get on the housing ladder has accused the government of not doing enough to help first-time buyers.

Alissa Barton, 32, from Stockport, is saving up to buy a house with her boyfriend, Jamie Dewhurst, 28, who works in retail. But the property conveyancer said she is worried stamp duty will make it harder for her to get on the housing ladder.

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Instead of relief from stamp duty, the government promised to abolish stamp duty relief in the budget earlier this month. It was introduced to those buying more than one house in a single transaction, and has been taken away.

Currently buyers pay no stamp duty on purchases under £250,000 - and 5% on anything over that. But Alissa says nearly all the houses in the area she is looking - in south Manchester - cost more than £250,000. She hoped the 0% banding might be raised in the budget to a “realistic" level for people trying to get onto the property ladder.

Alissa BartonAlissa Barton
Alissa Barton

"It's a vicious cycle," said Alissa. “You can save 5% for a mortgage but then you have to pay additional for stamp duty. It’s made really, really difficult to get on the ladder. It’s more and more unachievable to afford a deposit. By the time you have saved enough to get a deposit, [the price of the property has] gone up".

Alissa's boyfriend, Jamie, would have been eligible for a cash bonus from the government as part of their "Help to Buy" scheme - where the government tops up a buyer's total savings by 25%. But this does not apply to homes worth over £250,000 - meaning Alissa and Jamie are unlikely to get the bonus.

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"It’s an extra £1,200 we need to find, which is hard especially given the cost of living crisis," she said. "The price of everything has gone up, meaning what's going into the savings is less. Bills are high, interest rates are higher, rent is higher, petrol is higher. It’s hard for young people to reach their goals."

As she saves up for a house, Alissa is renting with her 24-year-old cousin Lara Norbury. Last month, a video of a mushroom infestation at their house went viral on the pair's TikTok page, @_lissandlara.

"We had a comment on our TikTok telling us to save up for a mortgage and to stop renting, saying that younger people waste money getting drunk every weekend," she said. "But that’s isn’t the case for everyone, certainly not me. We are just living. It's impossible to save if you are just renting."

Lara said she’s also hoping to buy somewhere in the “next couple of years” but is having to hold off because of the cost of living.

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She said: "There is no help for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder".

The emergency services worker said her colleagues are opting out of pension plans because their monthly paychecks won't cover their costs.

What is Project Peter Pan?

National World's 17 city world division news titles are collaborating to launch Project Peter Pan: championing the lost generation.

Project Peter Pan - launched as the UK heads toward a general election in 2024 - aims to use our collective local media power online to give a voice to those in their 20s and 30s who have negotiated a pandemic, work hard and are ambitious, yet are lost.

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They told our reporters they are frozen out of the housing ladder and stuck in a rental cycle often in substandard accommodation or they are in debt and facing impossible decisions. Meanwhile, they face accusations of 'laziness' as costs of living spiral, sparking a mental health epidemic. Politicians should take heed - they have a lot to say.

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