Kate Andrews Kate Andrews

Reviving ‘Help to Buy’ would be disastrous for the housing crisis

It’s hard to imagine the housing crisis getting much worse. But according to the front page of today’s Times, the prospect of buying one’s first home may get pushed even further out of reach.

According to the newspaper, officials in No.10 and the Treasury are working on plans to revive ‘Help to Buy’. This was the supposedly ‘affordable’ housing scheme which enabled first-time buyers to purchase a property with a 5 per cent deposit and access an equity loan from the government worth up to 40 per cent of the property, paid back interest-free for five years. Help to Buy came to an end in March, but it’s been briefed that Rishi Sunak may be considering a new version of the scheme for the Conservatives’ next election manifesto in a bid to offer wannabe homeowners a glimmer of hope for getting on the housing ladder.

There is no solution to the current housing crisis that does not include building a significant number of new properties

Goodness knows serious action is needed. The millennial generation has suffered greatly from successive government failures to increase the country’s housing stock. The overall cost of buying one’s first home has increased by two-thirds over the past 50 years, which explains why home ownership for this generation of people in their 30s has plummeted compared to previous generations.

Those in their prime for house-purchasing years, aged 26 to 41, are buying fewer homes than ever before, according to data firm Outra last year. Even before the pandemic hit, the number of 20 to 34 year olds living with their parents had increased by 46 per cent compared to two decades previous.

Labour is pledging to make good on the failed Tory promise to build 300,000 homes a year, so the Conservative party will need to make some noises about housing before the next election without drawing too much attention to what they’ve failed to deliver.

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