Housing Market: First-time Buyers

Housing, Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons on 19th April 2021.

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Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Labour, Westminster North

What recent assessment he has made of trends in the number of first-time buyers entering the housing market.

Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

In 2018 and 2019 we saw the highest and the second-highest number of first-time buyers since 2007. With the effect of covid, 2020 saw a 14% decrease from the 2019 total. The Government are now redoubling their efforts to assist first-time buyers. That is why today we launched the mortgage guarantee scheme offering a 95% loan-to-value mortgage, developing first homes and enabling first-time buyers to purchase new-build homes locally with at least a 30% discount—a determined effort to support buyers.

Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Labour, Westminster North

For many first-time buyers, especially in cities, the options are mainly new-build and leasehold properties, but many of them are walking into a new nightmare of costs. Inside Housing is today reporting on purchasers buying properties as safe only to discover almost immediately that the ratings are changing, leaving them with huge bills for waking watch, and unsaleable properties. Does the Minister know how many first-time buyers are affected by this, and why is the only truly blameless party, the purchaser, the one who is still left carrying the can and the risk?

Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

There are a suite of options for first-time buyers. They can purchase a home using the Help to Buy scheme. They can take advantage of our shared ownership scheme, whereby, under the new proposals, failings and defects will be fixed by the developer for the first 10 years. As I said, the mortgage guarantee scheme that we announced today allows first-time buyers and others to purchase homes with as little as 5% deposit.

We are determined to ensure that first-time buyers are able to achieve their dream and get on to the property ladder. That is a world away from the campaign that the hon. Lady chairs—the campaign of Sadiq Khan, who promised to build 116,000 homes in London but has thus far managed to deliver only 28,000. I wonder whether that is why the housing pledge, which was at the top of his campaign in 2016, is now second from bottom in 2021. I think that that says a lot about Labour and its priority for housing.

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Shadow Secretary of State for Housing

That was quite staggering. I do not know whether the Minister was listening to my hon. Friend Ms Buck. He avoided answering her, and he previously avoided answering my hon. Friend Mike Amesbury, so I will give him another go. Will the Minister please tell us what on earth the justification is for allowing new buildings to be built with dangerous cladding and other fire safety defects? What will he do to ensure that the number of first-time buyers moving into homes with dangerous cladding is zero?

Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving me a second go. I point out that she has no policies of her own. We are quite prepared to let her borrow some of ours, because we have a lot of them. We are determined to make sure, through the building safety regime that we will introduce, that we have a world-class building safety programme. We have consulted on the challenge of combustible products, which is a very complicated one, and we will make our announcements on those in due course. But make no mistake, Mr Speaker: we are determined to support buyers, we are determined to get more people on to the property ladder and we are determined to build better-quality homes—things that the Labour party talks about, we are doing.