David Cameron’s Help-to-Buy poster girl attacked for buying own £145,000 home through her estate agency firm

The Tory spin machine suffers critical backlash online for failing to properly research the star of Cameron's comical Help-to-Buy photoshoot

Last week, we bought you the most comically staged photoshoot of David Cameron’s political career, which featured a series of awkwardly posed pictures of the PM and his poster girl of choice, Sharon Ray, pointing at stuff in trees and laughing at tea with her infant daughter.

The shoot was all part of a new campaign for the government's Help-to-Buy scheme, which aims to provide assistance to those struggling to get on the property ladder because they couldn’t raise the necessary deposit.

 "Sharon & Maisie show me their lovely new home; just one of the families helped onto the housing ladder by #helptobuy," Cameron tweeted shortly after their meeting.

 "@david_Cameron so lovely to meet you today!!! Maisie and I had a great time!!!!! #helptobuy," Sharon tweeted back.

So far, so embarrassing. Until, of course, the Tory spin machine struck upon another clanger: their single mum of choice is actually a successful estate agent who bought her £145,000 flat through the firm she works for.

Ray has been employed at the aforementioned Enfield estate agency in Southampton for almost eight years, and she is currently the director of sales. It is not known whether she or the company benefitted from any sales commission following her purchase.

However, that isn't the only aspect to Ray's life that raised questions over her suitability for the scheme. Having split from her estate agent husband six months ago, she is now a single mother. But she also drives a £33,000 convertible BMW.

"This is about helping people to achieve the security and stability they want of owning a flat or a home of their own," Cameron said, talking up the new scheme following his stint as a catalogue model.

"We are not helping people to buy flats or homes they cannot afford. We are helping people who do not have wealthy parents, who cannot get a big deposit together and helping them to realise their dreams."

There is, of course, no suggestion that Ray was not eligible for the scheme or has acted wrongly in any way. In fact, the scheme helps home owners looking for property worth up to £600,000. Simply that, given the value of her company car and existing home, she enjoys a salary healthier than most.

But those facts have done little to quiet the critics online, who attacked Ray for being exploitative, and lambasted Cameron for "faking" the whole campaign.

Writing anonymously via a blog in a post that quickly became viral, one critic went as far as to post pictures of Ray's car, claiming that she had hidden the fact she was an estate agent, lied about being single, and that she didn't even own the house she showed Cameron around.

"Whether on finance or outright cash it's a good indicator of a healthy income... the kind of income which doesn't seem compatible with people unable to raise a deposit and desperate to buy their first home."

The blog led several angered members of the public and MPs to take to Twitter to voice their concerns and, quickly, the whole debacle went viral.

The mystery blogger also made the mistake of listing Ray's address. Pretty soon, her property was crawling with journalists demanding answers. She posted the following via her Twitter account (for which she goes by the surname O'Donnell), which has since received so much trolling, she's made it a protected profile:

Sharon Ray is forced to defend herself online following criticism over Cameron's Help-to-Buy campaign Sharon Ray is forced to defend herself online following criticism over Cameron's Help-to-Buy campaign

And the general public were not alone. Business Secretary Vince Cable expressed concerns that dolling out taxpayer-backed loans would lead to another housing bubble. The Labour Party, too, noted that the scheme did not address the issue of housing supply.

A Number 10 spokesperson has since insisted that Sharon Ray was exactly the sort of person who the scheme was aimed at helping: a hard-working, single mother, who could afford mortgage repayments but could not stump up the full funds for a deposit.

Further Reading: David Cameron Attempts To Explain Mandela Memorial Selfie

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

East15 Acting School: Finance and Contracts Officer

£20,781 to £24,057 per annum: East15 Acting School: The post involves general ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A mainstream Secondary school in C...

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company provides global satellite communi...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks