Boris Johnson has today unveiled a series of new housing policies, including the return of the Right to Buy for housing associations. Below is his speech in full.

 

Just this year alone the price of a home in the UK has soared by an average of 9.8 per cent to an average of £278,000 – £24,000 higher than this time last year.

And in 2021, prices rose faster than wages – so that if you’re one of the millions on the outside of the market looking in, for every week and month that goes by, the dream of ownership recedes further into the distance.

The average age of first-time buyers has been rising continuously, the proportion of young people who can afford to buy their own home has been falling.

Between 2005 and 2016, the proportion of 25 to 34-year-olds who owned their own home fell by 20 per cent – whereas in almost every other country in Europe that proportion was actually rising.

It’s true that we still have higher rates of overall home ownership – just ahead of France, and ahead of Germany.

It’s true we’re building as fast as we can, and after a sustained decline in home ownership rates under the last Labour government, that rate is now starting to climb thanks in part to our decisive action to support first time buyers and build more homes.

Last year there were over 400,000 first time buyers of property, a 20-year high.

But the raw numbers disguise the fact that home ownership is overwhelmingly concentrated among the over-65s, those who were able to buy in an era when housing was much cheaper.

If you look at the Millennial generation, I can see some millennials here, just 31 per cent own their own homes in the UK.

In France that figure is 41 per cent.

Partly this is a function of supply.

When Labour last left office in 2010 they famously confessed that there was no money left

They also handed us record low levels of housebuilding.

We’ve been sorting that out ever since – thanks to planning reforms over the past decade, housebuilding rates hit a 20 year high just before covid struck.

Although not in the capital, I should add, where Londoners need their present mayor to get building at the speed and scale achieved by his immediate predecessor.

But despite the progress across much of the country we remain one the slowest and least prolific home-building countries among all the 28 members of the OECD.

Since 1970, France has built 16.7 million homes, whereas we have built just 8.9 million in the UK – and in that period our population has grown by more than 12 million people. It’s not true that there is not space for these, there are places we can build.

So Michael Gove has been developing plans to work hand in hand with local communities across England to build more of the right homes in the right places.

We are going to put more publicly owned brownfield land to use and seek to unlock small sites that are ideal for the kind of unobtrusive development that communities welcome, with priority for first-time buyers and key workers.

We are supporting self-build and custom-build homes, as has long been proposed by my colleague Richard Bacon.

And we will sensitively make use of existing planning rights, for example by making it easier to turn disused agricultural buildings into homes for local

first-time buyers, and to support farmers in growing and diversifying their businesses.

But it is not enough just to build more homes.

We need also to recognise that while the people of this country overwhelmingly want the chance to own their own home, for too many the finance required is simply not available.

The challenge facing first-time buyers today is far greater than anything we have seen before.

20 years ago – in 2002 – a home cost average four and a half times your income.

Today that multiple has risen to nine times your income.

We have a ludicrous situation whereby plenty of younger people could afford to make monthly payments – they’re earning enough to cover astronomical rent bills – but the ever-spiralling price of a house or flat has so inflated deposit requirements that saving even just 10 per cent is a wholly unrealistic proposition for them.

First-time buyers are trying to hit a continually moving target.

And of course the global rise in the cost of living is only making life harder for savers.

So we want it to be easier to get a mortgage.

Working with lenders so that they recognise the credit worthiness of tenants with a track record of paying their rent on time.

Making sure that the self-employed also get the mortgages they need.

This Government has made sure that there is a healthy supply of 95 per cent mortgages. Tens of thousands of first time buyers have since bought their home thanks to our mortgage guarantee scheme

But we’d like to go further.

So today I can announce a comprehensive review of the mortgage market.

Reporting back this Autumn it will look at how we can give our nation of aspiring homeowners better access to low-deposit mortgages, and what our own mortgage industry can learn from counterparts around the world  who have all kind of alternative ways of offering finance, managing risk, and unbolting the door to ownership.

And just as no generation should be locked out of home ownership because of when they were born, so nobody should be barred from that same dream simply because of where they live now.

For four decades it has been possible for council home tenants to use a discount to buy the property they live in.

Over that time almost two million people have been helped into home ownership.

They have switched identities and psychology, from being dependent on the state for every repair – from damp-proofing to a new front door – to being in charge of their own family home, able to make improvements and add value as they please.

For various reasons the number of tenants who actually use this freedom has been steadily diminishing.

So now is the moment to widen the possibilities, and to give greater freedoms to those who yearn to buy.

I want us to deliver on the long-standing commitment, made by several governments, to extend the right to buy to housing associations.

There are still 1.6 million households living in council homes.

But there are now 2.5 million households whose homes belong to housing associations – and they are trapped.

They cannot buy, they don’t have the security of ownership, they cannot treat their home as their own or make the improvements they want.

And while some housing associations are excellent, others have been known to treat their tenants with a scandalous indifference.

So it’s time for change.

Over the coming months we will work with the sector to bring forward a new Right to Buy scheme.

It will work for tenants, giving millions more the chance to own their home.

It will work for taxpayers: responsibly capped at a level that is fully paid for; affordable within our existing spending plans, and with one-for-one replacement of each social housing property sold.

Even as we deliver this home ownership revolution, we will continue with our revolution in renters’ rights.

As the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy approaches, we need no reminders of the importance of landlords listening to and working with their tenants.

Which is why we’re giving tenants across the social and private sector better homes, greater security and access to the kind of justice we all deserve but which many are currently denied.

We’re also dealing with the scourge of unfair leasehold terms, often every bit as onerous as the conditions imposed upon tenants by landlords but applied to those who as homeowners should have far greater control over their homes and their lives.

In this Parliament we will supercharge leaseholders’ ability to buy their freehold, helping 4.6 million households genuinely to own their own home with discounts of up to 90 per cent for those trapped with agious, escalating ground rents.

We will finish the right to own reforms Margaret Thatcher began in the 1980s, ending the absurd position where first time buyers spend their life savings on flats, only to find themselves being charged hundreds of pounds for painting their own doors or unable even to own a pet dog.

That’s what being on your side is all about.

When ownership remains beyond the reach of a great many hard-working people, it’s neither right nor fair to put ever-vaster sums of taxpayer’s money straight into the pockets of landlords.

The total bill for Housing Support stands at about £30 billion each year, and the Office for Budget responsibility has warned that if we don’t take action, it could reach £50 billion by 2050.

That is cash, taxpayer’s cash that is being simply swallowed to pay the mortgages of private sector landlords or by housing associations.

It is time to put this huge wall of money, taxpayers’ money to better use.

It is time to turn benefits to bricks.

So we will look to change the rules on welfare so that the 1.5 million working people who are in receipt of housing benefits and want to buy their first home will be given a new choice:

to spend their benefit on rent as now, or put it towards a first-ever mortgage.

Doing so removes a significant barrier that currently prevents hundreds of thousands of families from buying their own home.

To remove another we’re going to explore discounting Lifetime and Help to Buy ISA savings from Universal Credit eligibility rules.

Not letting anyone claim benefits while sitting on vast savings pots that they could be drawing on. That’s not the people we’re targeting here.

But making it easier for hard-working people to put away a little each month until they have enough for a deposit on their first home.

To help keep people in a home if they’re unfortunate enough to become unemployed, we’re going to let people access support for paying their mortgage that much earlier that is presently the case.

And last of all we’re going to look at how we can securitise some of that colossal £30 billion housing benefits bill, so we can build more social homes with the potential for Right to Buy.

Taken together these measures will not only help us to build more homes in the right places, but will help millions more people realise what is currently an unattainable dream of home ownership, and that will be of massive benefit to them, social benefit to this country.