Dreams for sale: Help to Buy is a cynical ploy that is bad for Britain

Were the Government serious about helping people on to the property ladder, the priority would be to build more houses

Share

Taken at face value, the statistics from the first month of the Help to Buy mortgage-assistance scheme appear to calm, rather than stoke, fears of an imminent, state-funded housing bubble.

Not only have more than 2,000 people put in offers on homes but average borrowing of a modest £155,000 – far from the £600,000 ceiling – suggests sober good sense rather than a return to sub-prime madness. That most applicants are first-time buyers, many of them young, only adds to government self-satisfaction. Cue prime ministerial gushing about hard-working people realising their dreams of independence.

Look closer, though, and the old – and entirely rational – fears flood swiftly back. First, there is the simple matter of time. For the Government to conclude that the scheme is “delivering” within a single month is laughably precipitous, even more so given that the Bank of England is working on the principle that it will take at least six months to draw conclusions.

Then there is the detail to consider. Proponents of Help to Buy defend the scheme against the charge that it will push up prices, by pointing out – not entirely unreasonably – that, outside the South-East of England, the market is far from buoyant. In some regions, it is even falling. The problem is that, according to early data from RBS, it is in the inflated South that state backing is proving most popular. Just 3 per cent of Help to Buy applications came from the North, 30 per cent from London and the South-east.

A single month’s figures are not conclusive here either. But the trajectory is concerning, not least because it is so predictable. Were the Government serious about helping people on to the property ladder, the priority would be to build more houses. Help to Buy is double trouble, tying taxpayers into loans that banks would otherwise consider too risky, while encouraging more demand in an overcrowded market.

With the property-owning class basking in the warm glow of capital growth, the short-term result may well be more Tory votes in 2015. But the merry-go-round cannot continue forever. And even the gratitude of a few new homeowners cannot justify what remains a politically motivated scheme of breathtaking cynicism.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: odd pub names, final polls in Scotland and war historians

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: We are winning the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It's time to up the ante

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week