AN extension in taxpayer support for the property sector helped the UK's biggest housebuilding firms add to share gains since the start of last year.

The four biggest listed companies have increased in market value by £7.2bn after the Government launched the Help to Buy scheme to boost the sector.

Chancellor George Osborne will now extend an equity loan part of the initiative, which had been due to end in 2016, until the end of the decade.

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It will mean another £6bn invested to help an estimated 120,000 more households purchase a new-build home.

The latest announcement saw Persimmon climb about seven per cent, with its value rising by £2bn to £4.3bn, since the start of 2013.

Barratt Developments, founded by North-East property tycoon, Sir Lawrie Barratt, rose three per cent to £4.2bn, with Taylor Wimpey's value increasing by 84 per cent to £3.9bn over the period.

Berkeley, which lifted two per cent, has grown in value by £1.3bn to reach £3.7bn.