Even David Cameron Is Worried His Kids Will Never Be Able To Buy A House
The Debrief: The Prime Minister and his wife are said to be worth £30 million - and they still don't think their kids will get on the property ladder. Hmmm...
Yesterday most journalists were preoccupied by one thing: Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle. No, it’s not a dance move. Though that would have been mildly more interesting than Corby’s two-day long moving around of his shadow cabinet.
All the speculation about who would get which job and who would get the chop overshadowed something else which was happening in Westminster: the debate of the government’s Housing Bill.
Following on from Monday’s announcement that the government were going to directly commission the building of 13,000 new homes (which was good news but long overdue and basically a drop in the ocean in terms of supply catching up with demand because it’s estimated that we need 245,000 a year), yesterday’s bill proposed new ‘starter homes’ which would cost up to £450,000 in London and £250,000 elsewhere. That’s all very well and good but it’s a price tag that is still out of reach for many. It’s one thing to free up land for private developers to encourage building but that’s not much help if those properties are still relatively expensive.
Other proposals included in the bill include introducing measures like ‘pay to stay’ charges for tenants in council houses earning more than £30,000 and the forced sale of high value local authority properties.
Speaking on London’s LBC radio yesterday the Prime Minister admitted that he’s worried that even his kids will never manage to get on the housing ladder.
Dave said ‘I absolutely worry about it. This is why this is the first announcement I have made in 2016 of a series of steps to build more homes.’
He went on to reminisce about the fuzzy warm feelings you get when you buy your first house:
‘All of us who own our own homes, you can remember the magic of that first moment, the first set of keys. I want this to be a country where if you work hard, you’re putting the hours in, you should be able to own a flat or house of your own.’
Hearing the generations above us talk about this is enthralling for sure. These days listening to someone talk about how it felt to set foot in their very own home for the first time is a little bit like what it’s like to talk to your Nan and Granddad about life before TV: fascinating, mainly because it’s very difficult to imagine.
So, while the fact that the government are going to build more houses is very good, if somewhat long overdue news. The simple truth is that it’s still not enough to fix the broken housing market in this country and, unfortunately, all of this somewhat misses the point.
The average age of a first time buyer in Britain today is higher than ever. Over the last 20 years properties across the country have almost trebled in value, and they are predicted to go up another 25 per cent over the next five years.
More depressingly, most first time buyers make their purchases with support from their family. Last year research by the Sunday Times showed that 52 per cent of new homeowners receive cash contributions from their parents.
In fact the Guardian recently found that any would-be homebuyer earning the national average salary of £26,500 will now find 91per cent of England and Wales beyond their reach.
We won’t bang on anymore about facts and figures, you can read about how broken our housing market is here. But, essentially, along with building more to increase housing stock the Prime Minister needs to make sure that it’s affordable not just for people to buy but also for renters. None of these proposals will do that.
The Prime Minister should start seriously looking at the private rental market because many young people today are trapped in rented accommodation. Recent studies show that it could take the average person as long as 24 years to save for a deposit. And, to top it all off, experts are warning that the cost of renting is set to become more expensive than the cost of having a mortgage for the first time this year.
If we’re all stuck on a hamster wheel of short term tenancies, scrabbling to keep up with the rent increases our landlord’s impose on us as the market value of properties continues to rise, it’s unlikely we’ll be able to save up enough for a deposit in the first place.
And, anyway, something tells us Dave’s kids don’t have too much to worry about though. The Prime Minister and his wife, together, are thought to be worth more than £30 million, according to the Daily Mail.
The Daily Mail also reports that Cameron bought his first home aged just 25 in 1992 – a smart one-bedroom flat in Notting Hill for £130,000. Ah the heady days of the 90s when Notting Hill was home to young people (well privileged ones who could afford to buy there. The average price of a house in Britain in 1992 was actually £61,000). Being able to buy a one bed there or, in fact, anywhere for under £200,000 today is probably about as likely as Julia Roberts casually walking into a local bookshop and hooking up with the owner (the average price of a house in Britain last year was £195,000). It’s hard to imagine being able to afford as much as a doorway for that much there now.
Things have changed since the generation who are now running things were young. They're still fixated on home ownership while most of us are just thinkin 'bout that rent.
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