Help to Buy hits 1 billion pounds

The government released its juiciest Help to Buy figures yet this morning, showing it has lent over £1bn under the scheme, and that 45% of homes sold were worth less than £125,000. At least that's something for George Osborne to cling on to...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 03 Jun 2014

Over the past few months, it's fair to say Help to Buy has received more than its fair share of the blame for rising house prices.

What we didn't know, though, was exactly how many properties had been sold under the second phase of the scheme, introduced in October, under which the government guarantees mortgages of up to 95% on properties worth up to £600,000. While the government (with George Osborne as its leading voice) claimed the scheme would help first-time buyers, critics insisted high borrowing limit would do nothing more than give second-home buyers a cheap way to add a nice holiday home on the coast to their portfolios.

The government published its first 'quarterly' statistics for the scheme this morning (inverted commas because the results actually cover six months - October to March. Nice maths there, Treasury).

The figures showed that despite its many, vociferous critics, the scheme has become more and more popular as time has gone on. In fact, more than 7,000 homes - worth a total of more than £7bn - have been sold under it.

The good news - for Osborne, anyway - is that the majority of those who borrowed under the scheme were first-time buyers:

And the the highest percentage of homes sold were worth less than £125,000: in fact, between October and March, just 31 of the properties bought under the scheme were worth more than £500,000. Desperate Londoners borrowing 95% of the price of a £500,000 postage stamp, presumably...

The really interesting stuff, though, comes when you look at the figures by local authority. The big markers on the map are where the largest number of loans were given out. Although London, for instance, is split into a large number of small authorities (so cumulatively all those yellow dots would  make one big red marker), most of the activity took place in the North West. Where, incidentally, house prices have risen by 12.8% in the past year. Perhaps there is something in that argument about Help to Buy driving up prices after all...

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