Prime Minister David Cameron gives his reasons for extending a scheme which has so far helped 134 people in Gloucester to buy a place of their own
"WHEN we came to power in 2010, potential first-time buyers found themselves in a bleak situation.
The financial crash, high house prices and large deposits wanted by the damaged banks meant that buying a first home was only an option for the wealthiest or those with rich parents.
It was unacceptable that in Britain, a country that takes such pride in home ownership, so many people were being barred from having the security and stability of owning their own home – an aspiration that is such an important part of achieving a recovery for all.
We pledged that we would act, to help all those who were working hard, saving up, and setting their sights on buying a home of their own.
So last year we introduced Help to Buy to aid the many would-be buyers who could afford mortgage repayments but didn’t have the bank of mum and dad to fund the big deposits demanded by the banks.
In just one year Help to Buy has become a huge success.
Today, I am delighted to see that over 17,000 people have taken up our equity loan and mortgage guarantee schemes and own a home, including 134 people here in Gloucester.
For these people and many others, Help to Buy has been the right policy at the right time.
It has transformed home ownership from a pipe-dream to a reality for so many people.
It isn’t just about bricks and mortar; it’s about progress – giving people a chance to put down roots and invest in their future.
Of all the visits I do up and down the country, few are as rewarding as meeting new homeowners, and seeing the pride in their eyes as they show you around their new home.
Initially there were those who said Help to Buy wouldn’t work.
Some said it would increase demand but not result in new houses being built. But builders say it’s getting them building again, and housing starts have increased by 23 per cent.
Some said it would only benefit London. Yet 77 per cent of Help to Buy sales are actually being taken up outside London and the South East. Some said it would inflate prices.
But the average price of a home bought under the scheme is £195,000, well below the average house price in Britain.
Help to Buy is helping this Government to realise its vision for Britain: That people who work hard should be able to get on in life.
That is why we are extending the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme to 2020 – so that even more people can get on the property ladder and get the keys to a home of their own."
But Emma Reynolds, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, argues the real issue is a lack of affordable housing in Gloucester.
FOR millions of families across the country, the costs of buying or renting a home are the most pressing of all the demands at the heart of the cost-of-living crisis. For many of those who used to dream of owning their own home, hopes are fading fast as house prices rise and their wages stagnate. Recent figures show that for the first time in decades, if you’re in your late 20s or early 30s, you’re more likely to be renting privately than buying a home with a mortgage.
The cause of this is simple: there is a chronic shortage of affordable homes in Britain, and nowhere is this clearer than in Gloucester and the South West, where the difference between the average price of a home compared with local wages is amongst the biggest in the country.
The housing shortage did not begin with this government. But under David Cameron it is getting much worse. The number of homes built across the country in the past four years is lower than at any time in peacetime since the 1920s. In Gloucester, 190 fewer homes were built over the last year compared with the year before this government came to power.
We support help for first-time buyers – which is why we support Help to Buy. But rising demand for housing must be matched with rising supply, otherwise there is a real risk that soaring house prices will push home ownership out of the reach of the very first-time buyers that the scheme should be helping.
That’s why we need to boost housing supply to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Where David Cameron has failed, the next Labour government will act. Ed Miliband has made a firm promise: under the next Labour government, we will get at least 200,000 decent homes built a year by 2020, double what we are building today. We will tackle the shortage of homes and stand up for first-time buyers. We will also address the scandals in the private rented sector and clamp down on the blight of empty homes.
We will also implement Labour's cost-of-living plan, including freezing energy prices until 2017, expanding free childcare and introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax to help 24 million people on middle and low incomes.
The housing shortage, so central to the cost-of-living crisis, will not be solved until our country has a government that is willing to act. A One Nation Labour government would show that determination, so that we can meet the aspirations of the people of Gloucester and our country.
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