A flagship Tory scheme to help first-time buyers has been described as a “flop” after just 35 homes were delivered.
Sophia Sleigh www.huffingtonpost.co.uk
The First Homes programme promised to help thousands of key workers onto the property ladder by offering homes at a discount of at least 30% compared to the market price.
A trial was launched in Bolsover, Derbyshire, in June 2021, with a ministerial visit by then housing secretary Robert Jenrick.
It all formed part of Boris Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda and aimed to help first-time buyers stay in their local area.
The scheme featured in the Conservative Party’s winning 2019 election manifesto and was part of Johnson’s ambition to build one million new affordable homes during this parliament.
The government promised that further sites would launch across the country in “coming weeks”, adding: “A further 1,500 will enter the market from the autumn, with at least 10,000 homes a year being delivered in the years ahead and more if there is demand.”
However, figures unearthed by Labour MP Mike Amesbury show the government has delivered just 35 home since the scheme launched.
How Many First Homes Have Been Completed?
In the financial year 2021-22 at total of 35 First Homes were completed in England, according to government figures.
12 were completed in Bolsover, 10 in Cannock Chase, 10 in County Durham and three in South Cambridgeshire.
The former shadow housing minister branded it a “flop” and accused the government of “all spin and no substance”.
He told HuffPost UK: “Millions of people across the country are desperate to get on the housing ladder yet for many, market prices are simply unaffordable.
“Here was a glimmer of hope, with promises made and expectations raised. But yet again we find a government that is all spin and no substance.
“How many were completed in 2021-22? Just 35. And not a single one in my constituency or the wider North West region where I’m based.
“This is a scandalous state of affairs. It’s government by press release, government by soundbite. When you examine the evidence, there’s just no delivery.”
The then housing secretary Jenrick said at the launch: “Thanks to First Homes, we will offer more homes to local people and families, providing a route for first-time buyers to stay in their local areas rather than being forced out due to rising prices.”
Government sources stressed that they were still in the first stage of the scheme which runs until September and after then will ramp up the scheme to 10,000 a year.
A Department for Levelling Up spokesperson said: “First Homes gives first-time buyers discounts of up to 30% – making homeownership a reality for many.
“These figures only cover the very early stages of the pilot scheme and we have always been clear it will take time to ramp up and have never suggested delivery will be at 10,000 at this stage.
“We continue to support people onto the property ladder through a range of schemes including Right to Buy, Shared Ownership and through the mortgage guarantee scheme.”