First-time Buyers

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 2nd February 2015.

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Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford 2:30 pm, 2nd February 2015

What steps his Department has taken to help first-time buyers.

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

We have already helped over 58,000 first-time buyers to purchase a home with as little as 5% deposit through Help to Buy. We are also consulting on the starter homes scheme. Starter homes will be available for 100,000 first-time buyers under 40 years of age, at a minimum of 20% below open market value.

Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford

I thank the Minister for that important answer. Stafford and Rural Homes in my constituency is investing in many high-quality, well-designed new homes for social rent. What steps is he taking to ensure that the proposed new starter homes are of equally high quality and good design?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

My hon. Friend makes a good point. I have said at a number of points that it is important that, in building the quantity of homes we want, we ensure that the quality of build and design is there, too, so that communities can be proud of the homes that are being built. That is why I brought together a design panel of various organisations, which is looking at that work to ensure that we are using the best-quality design and build.

Photo of Meg Hillier Meg Hillier Labour, Hackney South and Shoreditch

One way that the Minister can help first-time buyers in my constituency is to tackle high rents and insecurity in the private rented sector. Increasingly, there are reports of people who are not couples being forced to share a bedroom because they cannot afford the high rents in London, yet the Minister is being complacent. Is it not time that the Government acted?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

I think that, in asking for rent controls again, the hon. Lady may have just contradicted her colleague, Emma Reynolds. We have introduced the rent to buy scheme, which was announced towards the end of last year, to enable people who are renting and want to own a home to have another option to do that. I also encourage Meg Hillier to support our starter homes programme, which will make 100,000 extra homes available at a 20% discount.

Photo of Andrew Love Andrew Love Labour, Edmonton

I did not think that you would call two Opposition Members in a row, Mr Speaker.

The level of home ownership has fallen to its lowest level for 30 years. Will the Government now admit that their failure to build homes is pricing home ownership out of the reach of ordinary families?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

I gently point out to the hon. Gentleman that in 2010 we inherited the lowest level of building since 1923. We have been rebuilding that market, which is now back at the 2007 level. We have started building affordable homes at the fastest rate in 20 years. The latest figures we have show that, in 2013, we had the highest level of first-time buyers in the market—almost 230,000—for many years.