Property limit for Lifetime ISA would be £580,500 if it had risen with house price inflation, figures out today showed.
Someone who saved the maximum since launch would lose £1,500 of their money for breaching the limit.
Lifetime ISA property limit could be aligned with first-time buyer stamp duty break at £625,000.
Government should also cut withdrawal charge to 20% during cost-of-living crisis.
Laura Suter, head of personal finance at AJ Bell, comments: “Soaring house prices mean many first-time buyers have struggled to get on the property ladder, and the government’s refusal to increase the limit on the Lifetime ISA means well-intentioned buyers are being priced out of using it and then clobbered with an unfair exit penalty.
“Despite house prices having consistently risen in the past few years, 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 £208,000, but it has since shot up to £268,000*. On average, house prices across the UK have risen by 29% since April 2017, and if the Lifetime ISA limit had increased in line with this 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.
“If someone had contributed the full £4,000 annual limit since the Lifetime ISA launched, they’d have a £30,000 deposit saved once the government bonus has been added**. If they then faced that 25% exit penalty, they’d have to pay an exit charge of £7,500. It means they’d end up with £22,500 in savings, £1,500 less than they contributed. If a couple buying together had both maxed out their Lifetime ISAs, they would face an exit penalty of £15,000 and would lose £3,000 of the money they saved for their deposit. On top of that many buyers will face a last-minute scramble to make up that shortfall.”