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

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions