Thursday, 27 February 2020

Building the right homes for Cornwall

I have always believed it is important to help young families fulfill the ambition of owning their own home. Over time, owning an asset like your own home gives you some financial security and allows you to set down roots. Twenty years ago it was possible to get relatively affordable mortgages for 95 percent of the value of a property and this meant that people who were working could generally save a five percent deposit. However, after the banking crisis in 2008 things went into reverse. Banks and mortgage companies now expect a much higher deposit than was the case twenty years ago, typically 25 percent which means that it's much harder for young families to purchase their first home.
A few years ago the government introduced a new "Help to Buy" scheme where government would help to underwrite the deposit in order to ensure normal families who work hard but don't have large incomes or even large savings, could be supported to purchase their first home. The scheme was available on certain new build properties and it has been a success with some good examples across Camborne, Redruth and Hayle.
Building on this success, the Government this week announced further details on the new Help to Buy scheme that will run from 2021 to 2023. The scheme will be targeted and continue to help more people onto the property ladder including regional property price caps based on average first time buyer prices. Such caps will take average first time buyer prices for the region and add a further 50% to ensure there is good availability of the scheme. This is a positive step forward and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to building at least one million new homes over the course of this parliament.
There is no doubt that nationally we have a housing shortage. A combination of population growth and issues like family breakdown means that many families are struggling to find a home that delivers their needs. In Cornwall, the issue is exacerbated in some areas by second homeowners. So, as well as helping first time buyers purchase their first home through schemes like Help to Buy, we do also need to build more homes.
However, the homes that we do build should be built to the highest quality. Every year, I have a number of constituents contact my office citing defects to their newly built home that they have just moved into. No one should expect to purchase a poor-quality home or receive poor customer service, but far too many do. That’s why this week the Government announced that it will be establishing a New Homes Ombudsman to protect the rights of homebuyers, holding developers to account when things go wrong, and including legislation to require all developers of new build homes to belong to this Ombudsman. Not only will this ensure a constant access to redress for all buyers of new build homes, it will also help to drive up standards across the country.

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