Housing experts were yesterday critical of a failure to do more to stimulate the market, which the Treasury has estimated could fall by around a fifth in the two years to the end of 2009.

Estate agents and house builders had called for a range of measures to immediately improve the wider residential market, such as a holiday on stamp duty land tax and further help for buyers, particularly first-timers.

But the government instead outlined proposals to help those struggling to pay mortgages or facing repossession as house values slide. There was also a pledge to support the social housing sector with an additional £775m.

Richard Cotton, head of the residential agency at estate agents Cluttons, said: 'I can’t see any single aspect that is going to immediately encourage homebuyers or benefit the housing market.'

Financial Times