Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Tory home loan bribes 'unwise'

by Richard Bagley

Tory Chancellor George Osborne revealed his latest desperate "big idea" for housing today that will see more of our cash used to bribe banks into lending to people who can scrape together a mortgage deposit.

He plans to gamble £12 billion on high-risk 95 per cent loans where the state will act as a guarantor.

That means we will pick up the tab for some of the loss in case of a default.

Mr Osborne claimed following talks with construction firms that the extension of the Help to Buy scheme was "about getting behind those who aspire to own a home."

It will cover houses priced up to £600,000 and will only help those wealthy enough to save a 5 per cent deposit.

With average house prices at around £150,000 in Scotland and Wales - rising to a whopping £454,000 in London - people in the two nations would need at least £7,500 in cash to qualify for the mortgages or over £22,000 in the English capital.

The government's obsession with fuelling the housing market even drew criticism from Bank of England chief Paul Tucker.

He described the scheme as "unwise" in the long term because of fears that it will help reinflate a housing bubble that has left hundreds of thousands packed into expensive private rented accommodation.

Construction union Ucatt general secretary Steve Murphy accused Mr Osborne of "fiddling round the edges of the housing crisis.

"If the government wants to begin to solve both issues then they need to be investing and building social housing which will get skilled workers back to work and will also provide homes for the millions of people who are currently in ina
dequate accommodation."

Left Economics Advisory Panel co-ordinator Andrew Fisher ridiculed the Chancellor's announcement.

"After three years of economic failure, Osborne's great new strategy for growth is a house price bubble," said Mr Fisher.

"The Help to Buy Scheme is an admission of political failure and of the continuing fragility of UK banks.

"This is nationalising the risk and privatising the profits again - a bank bailout by stealth."
He added: "The solution is not subsidies for the big construction companies instead of the banks, but for councils to borrow and build to meet local need."

This article appears in today's Morning Star

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