The 'Starter Homes Land Fund', which will see 30 areas across England given funding for new housing developments specifically designed for first-time buyers, has been described as a positive message by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The government's announcement of a £1.2bn fund, which will allow first-time buyers aged between 23 and 40 to purchase newbuild homes at a discount of up to 20% of the market value, was first made in 2014, but Housing Minister Gavin Barwell has now said thousands of these homes will be built this year.

The first 30 local authorities chosen to be part of the scheme include Sheffield City Council, Luton Borough Council, North Somerset Council, Plymouth City Council and Blackpool Council. More details of the scheme and a full list of participating local authorities can be found online at

The FMB has welcomed the news, but warned that greater challenges lie ahead if we are to solve the UK housing crisis.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: "It's great to see the Housing Minister kick off 2017 by giving the green light to the first Starter Homes. These homes will help some first time buyers get a foot on the housing ladder, and our small house builders are enthusiastic about delivering on that vision, but starter homes will not be a panacea.

"A wider set of measures aimed at increasing the capacity of the house building industry are needed to overturn the long-term under-supply of new homes. Central to this must be getting small and medium-sized (SME) builders delivering more new homes. For instance, the announcement of 14 'garden villages' and more garden towns needs to be backed up by implementation plans which provide opportunities to SME builders as well as the large companies."

Mr Berry concluded: "These are positive messages to start the year with and they show that the government is putting house building at the front and centre of its ambitions for 2017. With a Housing White Paper expected in the next few weeks this will be an important year for housing policy and its success or failure will be a key part of the new PM's legacy."