Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Get 'em young

It was hard to avoid grimacing for Toni Stott on last night's Panorama, dedicated to the government's Help to Buy scheme. A 25 year old primary school teacher from Oldham, earning £30,000 a year, she took the Beeb round her £125k newly built home, positively bubbling with excitement.

The homes, which had been built by Countryside Properties, "had gone up quite quickly and had gone quite quickly," said Stott.

Without the first phase of H2B, which requires only a 5% deposit, and is only available for newly built homes, Stott conceded she would have had to wait "a long time for it to happen". (Not a bad thing, more mature souls might have observed.)

But the toe-curling moment came when the interviewer asked her what would happen should rates go up. "Are you aware that interest rates are have never been so low?" "No (laugh)". "Not for hundreds of years?" "No (another laugh)". You're not aware that this is a really unusual situation ..." "No (yet another laugh)".

Another blissfully naïve sounding interviewee was interviewed yesterday on Radio 4's The World at One, on her way to meet PM David Cameron to celebrate her purchase under the second phase of H2B, also available for secondhand homes. Even if rates went up two or three times, the home "would still be mine" she enthused breathlessly. Errrr, not so sure that holds.

Back on Panorama, abrasive new housing minister Kris Hopkins railed against "cycnical" views that the only people supportive of it were politicians and housebuilders (a view I have put more than once). Well, it looks like even politicians on the right may not be supportive. The head of research at the stalwart of the right, the Adam Smith Institute branded H2B as "essentially a political scheme to buy votes".

On that basis a "buy now, pay for it later" offer to the electorate. Caveat emptor (a clause that may not have been fully made clear to Ms Stott).

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