Taylor Wimpey boss Pete Redfern said yesterday that the Scottish housing market will lag England this year unless Holyrood can find extra funds for its version of the Help to Buy scheme.
Speaking after the builder increased a planned payout to shareholders by £50 million on the back of soaring first-half profits, he said: “We have some nervousness around the Scottish market over the next six months.
“There’s the referendum but more directly for the new homes market the Scottish Help to Buy scheme has run out of funds for this year and the government hasn’t topped it up.
“I don’t think the market is going to go backwards but it’s likely that its recovery will lag England over the next few months.”
He added: “From our point of view we would like to see those funds [made available] for the next few months because on and off is not always a healthy market, and as it is, it will probably bounce back in January.”
The scheme helps buyers with lower deposits buy newly-built homes up to the value of £400,000 by providing equity loans for 20 per cent of the price.
The Scottish Government received funding to launch its version of the programme after a similar scheme south of the Border was credited with boosting the housing market. However, it recently emerged that £140m allocated for the current financial year had been spent as buyers rushed to take advantage of the offer.
Alongside other housebuilders, Taylor Wimpey has seen its sales soar thanks to a combination of government help and improving confidence in the economy. In results for the first six months of the year, the firm said it would increase a cash return planned for 2015 from £200m to £250m.
Pre-tax profits jumped by 63 per cent year-on-year, to £178.4m, as its margin reached 16.1 per cent, up from 13.1 per cent a year ago.
The builder completed 5,766 homes across the UK, up 11 per cent, while its average selling price increased by 10 per cent to £206,000.
Redfern said the latter increase was down to both a rising market and the changes to the company’s sales mix as it targeted more expensive areas.
The chief executive said the firm would complete about 12,500 homes this year, nearing the 14,000 level it believes is a sustainable long-term target.
He said any further growth would push the firm down a “lower quality route” by forcing it into fierce competition with rivals or spreading into less vibrant markets.
“We want to be able to focus on buying and developing sites that our customers choose to live on,” he said. “That can be anywhere from central London to the outskirts of Glasgow, but it means you have to restrict growth to the land that’s on offer.”