Last Thursday, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council voted to pass a new, landmark home ownership policy which will allow young people, under the age of 35, to borrow up to £30,000 interest free for five years to help them on to the housing ladder. As Cabinet Member for Homes and Families for the Council, I proposed this policy following months of background work with officers and members.
Home ownership is one of the biggest generational challenges of our time. In the past 20 years, the number of 25 to 34 year olds who own their own home has halved, from 64% to just 32%. The 2014 British Social Attitudes Survey found that given the free choice, 86% of the population would prefer to own their own home rather than rent. But young people are struggling to achieve that dream, purchase that stake in society and start a family with security.
The housing charity Shelter, in their report ‘Homes for Forgotten Families’,highlight that people have strong reasons for owning their own home including:
- They want stability and control over their home in which to raise their children, and to feel confident that they can put down roots in the place their children go to school;
- Home owners are more likely to feel part of the community: to vote, volunteer and know their neighbours;
- Renters resent paying “dead money” to landlords; they would prefer to build up an asset and ensure security for later life.
In Basingstoke and Deane the problems are no less acute, with young people who are working hard on modest incomes trapped between the safety net of social housing and unaffordable market housing, while paying high rents meaning they struggle to save for a deposit. We are committed to helping people at all stages in life and that’s why I’ve championed aspirational home ownership for young people.
Our landmark home ownership policy will allow young people, under the age of 35, to borrow up to £30,000 interest free for five years to help them on to the housing ladder. The scheme will be administered through the housing register, meaning only people with a local connection can apply, plus there is an income threshold to ensure we are helping those most in need. The applicants will need just a 5% deposit and crucially, while the Government’s national Help to Buy scheme has been limited to new build properties which on average are some 16% more expensive, they can choose to purchase a new, or existing home.
Together with the nationally recognised work that we have done to combat rough sleeping and homelessness, including the Churches Together Winter Night Shelter, and Real Change campaign, we are committed to helping everyone in our community. Basingstoke and Deane is a great place to live and work and we are proud to be helping our ambitious young people onto the housing ladder.