By Sajid Javid, MP
Help to Buy is making the dream of home ownership a reality for families up and down the country.
Everybody wants to own their own home. It is a dream for millions of families up and down the country. I can still remember buying my first-home as a twenty-seven year old in London. It was the perfect reward after years of hard work – getting a secure job and then saving up for a deposit – all so I could get a two bed flat that I could actually call my own.
But for too many people over the last few years the dream of home ownership has remained exactly that – something they can only dream about. Since the financial crisis, families have been priced off the property ladder as banks have asked for larger and larger deposits. Deposits that it would take families without rich parents decades to save up.
The Conservative Party has never been willing to sit back and let home ownership become the preserve of the rich. In the 1950s it was Harold Macmillan – a future Conservative Prime Minister – who got on with building the homes that many of us will have brought our families up in.
While in the 1980s Margaret Thatcher was not content to watch millions of council tenants be denied the benefits of home ownership. Her policy of Right to Buy gave something back to families in council estates up and down the country who worked hard and wanted to get on in
It empowered one-time council tenants to do up their home, change their front door, improve their garden – without getting permission from the council. And most of all it gave people a sense of pride and ownership not just in their home, but in their street and neighbourhood, helping to build strong families and stable neighbourhoods.
Help to Buy has the potential to have the same transformative effect. There are currently too many people being forced to live with their parents well into their thirties and too many families trapped renting because they are unable to save enough for the prohibitively high deposits that banks are demanding.
Many of these people can afford repayments on a large mortgage, but would have spent decades trying to save up for a 25 per cent deposit if we hadn’t take action. Help to Buy is tackling this problem head on by providing guarantees so lenders have the confidence to offer 95 per cent mortgages – and the early signs are really encouraging with more than 2,000 people having put in offers on homes using the scheme in just its first four weeks. That is 75 families on the path to owning their own home every day since the scheme started.
Just as in the 1950s and the 1980s some people argue this policy isn’t right. They say people who work hard and can afford a mortgage shouldn’t be given this help to own a home. I don’t agree. 95 per cent mortgages are not exotic weapons of financial mass destruction – they are a regular part of a healthy mortgage market and an aspirational society.
They helped my generation get onto the housing ladder and I want them to help the next generation realise their dream of home ownership.
The Labour Party in particular have talked this scheme down – saying it would only benefit the rich. But in its first month the average person using Help to Buy wanted to buy a house for £163,000, well below the UK average price of £247,000. And three quarters of mortgage applications were from first-time buyers outside London and the South East. Instead of sniping from the sidelines, we need everyone to get behind Help to Buy, so we can back aspiration and home ownership.
Sajid Javid is Economic Secretary to the Treasury