General election a chance for parties to address Lifetime ISA limit failings

The state of the housing market is a key concern for many Brits. First-time buyers will want to see an extension to support helping them get a foot on the ladder, while existing homeowners will hope for policies that moderate inflation and increase the likelihood of interest rate cuts.

The Lifetime ISA is a key component of the current offering for aspiring homeowners, but is currently frozen in time.

The property limit for the Lifetime ISA has remained stubbornly at £450,000 since its launch in April 2017.

When the Lifetime ISA was launched the average UK house price was £219,000, but it has since shot up to just over £283,000.

If the Lifetime ISA limit had increased in line with average house prices it would sit at £580,500 today – more than £130,000 higher.

Many aspiring homebuyers will have signed up to the accounts years ago, not realising that it would take so long to get on the property ladder and that they might fall foul of the property limit in the future.

What makes the situation more galling for first-time buyers who have been priced out of using the Lifetime ISA is that they now face losing some of their own money when they withdraw their cash from the accounts, thanks to the onerous withdrawal penalty.

Anyone who exceeds the £450,000 limit, even by just £1, will be hit with the 25% exit charge on the Lifetime ISA, as their purchase will no longer be within the rules.

Laura Suter is AJ Bell personal finance director