[Mr James Gray in the Chair] — First-time Buyers

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 14th March 2012.

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Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine Conservative, Winchester 9:30 am, 14th March 2012

Absolutely. We have often debated the future of sub-post offices, pubs and primary schools where falling rolls lead to changes and school reconfiguration. There is a need for new people to enter communities, to regenerate them. I ask hon. Members who are home owners to remember when they first walked into the first house they owned, and the excitement of that. We may remember how exciting it was as a child to play house; but that was playing house for real. I remember how exciting it was, and I want other people to experience that excitement. That is what the debate is about, which brings me back again to that word “values”.

I want to outline the scale of the current challenges to the UK housing market, and the difficulties that young families and first-time buyers experience in taking their first tentative step on to the property ladder. It is a daunting challenge. Since 2008 the number of first-time buyers has declined from a long-term average of about 500,000 a year to just 200,000. One of the key factors accounting for that is, of course, the astonishing rise in average house prices relative to earnings in the past 20 years —even taking into account the slight decline in prices in more recent years. I emphasise the word “slightly” because the situation in the part of the world I represent may be different from that in some other constituencies.