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First-time Homebuyers

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st March 2016.

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Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Conservative, Bexhill and Battle 12:00 am, 1st March 2016

What fiscal steps he is taking to help first-time homebuyers.

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State

The Government want to make home ownership a reality for as many people as possible, which is why we are building 400,000 new homes and have extended Help to Buy. Our new Help to Buy ISA, launched a year ago at the Budget, is already being used by almost one third of a million families to save for their first home—confirmation that the Conservative Government are on the side of home ownership.

Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Conservative, Bexhill and Battle

Recent figures show that 82% of buyers who used Help to Buy would not have been able to buy their home without that scheme. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Conservatives are helping hard-working people to realise their dreams of home ownership? Is he aware of alternative economic policies and the risk that they pose to families in my constituency?

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State

My hon. Friend is right, and 130,000 people have made use of our Help to Buy scheme, which has helped people in his constituency and elsewhere to get on the housing ladder. At the same time, we are seeking to increase supply by building more homes for people to buy. First-time buyers were down by more than 50% under the previous Labour Government, but they are up by 60% with us.

Photo of Meg Hillier Meg Hillier Chair, Public Accounts Committee, Chair, Public Accounts Committee

The Chancellor makes great claim for his policy, but in inner-London in my constituency, housing is a real crisis. This morning I met the head of our clinical commissioning group. We have a crisis in GP recruitment and in hospital doctor appointments. Even highly paid doctors cannot afford to get on the housing ladder in my constituency, and that is causing a crisis in public services. What will he do about that?

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State

We are doing two things about that. First, we are building more homes in London than were ever built under the previous Labour Government, and we have also just introduced Help to Buy London, so that we help Londoners deal with the very high cost of housing in the capital.

Photo of Seema Malhotra Seema Malhotra Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

After six years as Chancellor, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm whether home ownership went up or down between 2010 and 2015?

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State

When I first became Chancellor we were in the aftermath of a collapse in the housing market, so it took a couple of years to get house building going again. House building starts are now up, and the number of first-time buyers has risen by 60% since I became Chancellor. It was down by 50% under the last Labour Government.

Photo of Seema Malhotra Seema Malhotra Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

There you have it, Mr Speaker. We know from the English housing survey that 201,000 fewer households owned a home in 2015 than five years ago, compared with an increase of 1 million under Labour. By 2025, nine out of 10 Britons under 35 on modest incomes will not be able to afford a home. Rents in the private sector are soaring, and the housing benefit bill is likely to be £350 million more than the Chancellor forecast last year. Is his record on housing investment one of failure, with British families now literally paying the price?

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State

Housing starts are higher than they were when I became the Chancellor, but what people need—homeowners or people who are building houses—above all is economic security, which is what the Government are seeking to deliver. Frankly, the fact that the Labour party is now getting its advice from Yanis Varoufakis and the revolutionary Marxist broadcaster Paul Mason does not suggest to me that it has an answer to economic security. Presumably Labour chose those two because Chairman Mao was dead and Micky Mouse was busy.