Dawn Foster clearly thinks so, anyway:
Picture a typical first time buyer. Chances are the image you have is of a young professional couple who’ve spent years scraping together a deposit, and are keen to own the roof over their heads so they can start a family.
Mmm, yes. Probably.
Not that we should have stereotypes, Dawn, surely the ‘Guardian’ of all newspapers shouldn’t be encouraging this?
I’ll hazard a guess that very few people instantly thought of the wife of a 63-year-old Conservative MP: but, according to the Mirror, Peter Bone and his wife Jennie used the government’s help-to-buy scheme to buy a new constituency home, purchasing the £175,000 home in her name, with a £35,000 equity loan from the government.
So..? Did they break any rules by doing this?
Of course even if his wife did purchase the home using a help-to-buy equity loan, she is perfectly within her rights to do so: there is no cap on income for applicants, and outside of London, would-be homeowners simply need to be first-time buyers.
Answer’s ‘no’ then. Why the whinging?
This story exposes the conflict at the heart of the government’s various schemes to quell the growing rage over UK house prices. People want to buy, because renting conditions are often precarious and expensive.
But people can’t buy, because house prices are too high. And rather than address the root causes of the housing crisis – speculation, a lack of supply, a stilted economy and the collapse of the social rented sector – politicians opt to prop up an unsustainable housing market with state cash, to mollify homeowners who are understandably nervous of negative equity.
I notice a ‘root cause’ missing, Dawn. Mass immigration. Must have just been an oversight, eh?
… wealthy people can take advantage of it if they technically haven’t purchased a home in their own name before.
Equally, a loophole in the details of the government’s flagship starter homes scheme could be exploited by prospective buy-to-let landlords – there is currently no stipulation that the buyer must live in the property. So potentially, wealthy parents could hand a child a lump sum to purchase a starter home with a 20% discount, then let the property out.
If you think you can write a totally loophole-free piece of legislation, Dawn, then have at it!