Thank you very much. Well, it’s been a great pleasure and a real privilege to welcome all these people to Number 10 Downing Street who are benefiting from the government’s Help to Buy scheme. It’s worth remembering why we introduced this scheme. There are thousands of people in our country who work hard, who want to own their own home, but because of the problems in the banking system, they haven’t been able to get a mortgage. And so they’ve been living at home, or they’ve been renting relatively expensive property when they’d like to have a mortgage and a home of their own.
And all of these people, they find that they can afford the mortgage payments. That’s not been the problem. The problem has been getting together the deposit. And that’s why the government’s Help to Buy scheme, making sure that there are 90% and 95% mortgages out there in the market, has made such a difference. So all the people behind me are well on the way to achieving their dream of owning a flat or a home of their own.
Now of course there have been lots of critics of this scheme. People said, will it be big enough? Well, it certainly has got off to an extraordinary start: 75 families every day have taken the step to achieving their dream of home-ownership. A third of a billion pounds of mortgages has so far been agreed.
There were some who wondered whether it would only be confined to the south of England. That hasn’t been the case. Lloyds, for instance, have found that 80% of their customers for Help to Buy are outside London and the south-east.
Some people thought it might only benefit those buying relatively expensive properties. Again, that’s not the case. The typical property being bought under this scheme is around the average house price in the UK.
So this is a successful scheme. Those are the numbers, but this is about more than numbers. It’s about hard-working people achieving their dream of home-ownership. And it’s part of the government’s long-term plan for getting our economy moving.
One point that people were concerned about was would this just add to house prices, rather than actually generating more house building. Well, we can see this year house building up by a third. So I believe this scheme is not only helping hardworking people achieve their dreams; it’s also helping the long-term plan that the government has for turning our economy round.
Prime Minister, you introduced the scheme because house prices were unaffordable for many. But if you were tackling new demand, but not necessarily the supply through Help to Buy, isn’t that just going to make the problem worse?
Well, this is tackling 2 problems. First, the problem that there are many young people who can afford a mortgage but are struggling to save for the deposit because there aren’t 95% mortgages available. This makes those mortgages available. We’re not encouraging people to buy homes they can’t afford, or have mortgages they can’t afford; we’re helping them get mortgages they can afford.
But secondly, it does help unlock the problem of a shortage of housing supply. Put frankly, the builders won’t build, the developers won’t develop unless the buyers are able to buy. And that’s why we’re seeing now growing levels of housing investment and house-building in our country. The 2 issues are linked.
Lots of people say that, unless people have help from the bank of mum and dad, it’s very hard to get on the ladder. And Sir John Major’s been talking about his shock at the level of social mobility in this country. Do you share Sir John’s concerns?
Well, I think this is about social mobility. The fact is that, without Help to Buy, we were beginning to see a country where only people who had wealthy mums and dads who could give them the money for the deposit, were able to buy a flat or a house. Many of the people standing behind me, they’ve been able to buy a flat or a house because they can now get a bigger mortgage without such a large deposit. They can afford those mortgage payments and they’ll be able to achieve their dream of owning their flat or their home.
This scheme is about social mobility. It’s about helping people who don’t have rich parents to get on and to achieve their dreams of home-ownership, which is why it’s so welcome.
Thank you very much.