David Cameron is marking his tenth anniversary as Conservative party leader with a speech in the West Midlands today on one of the party’s core issues: home ownership. The Prime Minister will announce an expansion of the shared ownership scheme — which allows people to part-buy and part-rent a property — by scrapping existing rules:
‘But, because it’s been heavily restricted, many of those people have missed out. We’ve had local councils dictating who is eligible, based on everything from salary to profession to where the buyer comes from.
‘From April next year, that will make 175,000 more people eligible for home ownership. It means some people will be able to buy a house, for example, in Yorkshire, with a deposit of just £1,400.
‘It will be opened up to people of any occupation, the only restriction being that you have to earn under £80,000, and £90,000 in London.’
Cameron will also call for the quicker delivery of new Starter Homes, with an £8 million fund for councils to buy up unused land. Housing aside, the PM will also announce an expansion of free childcare for working families, a plan for more apprenticeships as well as a crackdown on underperforming schools. Altogether, Cameron will say, these announcements demonstrate this is a government than can deliver:
‘A manifesto shouldn’t be a wish-list; it should be a checklist. And that’s why, since the election, we haven’t been tacking off in in a new direction, but marking off the commitments we made.
‘Today, I want to set out the progress we’re making. I want to go back to that opening page and show that this is a Government that delivers and is accountable as it endeavours to do so’.
Increasing home ownership is a key part of Cameron’s second term vision. Conservatives are keen to do this because they believe by expanding home ownership, they can also expand their voter base. After a focus on economic and international matters, today’s speech is clearly about returning the focus to retail offers. But given the flooding in Cumbria and the accusations that cuts to flood defences have made the situation worse, Cameron may struggle to get a hearing for his housing plans.