August 4, 2017 / 8:28 AM / a year ago

UK housebuilders' shares slump on "Help to Buy" worries

LONDON (Reuters) - Shares in British homebuilders slumped on Friday after an article in trade publication Property Week cast doubt over the future of the government’s “Help to Buy” scheme which is aimed at boosting home ownership among first-time buyers.

FILE PHOTO: A construction worker casts a shadow as he works on a Taylor Wimpey housing estate in Aylesbury, Britain, February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh/File Photo

An article in Property Week said the government had begun a review of the scheme which could result in it being wound down or replaced before its scheduled end in April 2021.

A spokesman for Britain’s planning ministry said the “Help to Buy” equity loan scheme was regularly reviewed.

“To infer from that that it will be cancelled is incorrect,” the spokesman said.

Shares in the homebuilding sector, which fell between 5-6 percent in early trading, recouped some losses but were still firmly in the red compared with a broadly flat FTSE 100 .FTSE.

Persimmon (PSN.L) shares, which hit an all-time high in the previous session, were the weakest performers, down more than 3 percent. Taylor Wimpey (TW.L), Barratt Development (BDEV.L) and Bellway (BWY.L) all fell more than 2 percent in heavy volume.

An official policy paper on housing published in February had stated that the government had committed £8.6 billion for the scheme to 2021.

Reporting by Vikram Subhedar and William James, Editing by Kit Rees and Jane Merriman

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