Government funding helps only 22 Camden buyers onto the ladder

Help to Buy and similar schemes don't help Londoners afford housing

Help to Buy and similar schemes don't help Londoners afford housing - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

The disparity between buying a home in Camden and rest of the country was revealed by figures showing the low take up for flagship government home ownership schemes in the borough.

The Help to Buy scheme, which was launched in 2013, has seen nearly 200,000 people nationwide take advantage of government money to buy a home.

But in Camden, high property values and a greater number of high earning buyers with sizeable deposits meant that only 22 people have taken advantage of the scheme since its launch.

The Help to Buy equity loan, in which the government provides an interest-free loan towards the cost of a new build home, has been taken up by only six buyers in the three years it has been available, despite the government raising the size of the loan to 40 per cent and the upper price limit to £600,000 for London buyers six months ago.

Under the Help to Buy ISA, which offers savers a 25 per cent government bonus to put towards properties costing up to £450,000, not a single bonus has yet been claimed by Camden buyers, compared to more than 15,000 claims nationwide.

The savings account caused some controversy recently when it emerged that the money could not in fact be put towards a home deposit as was widely believed but could only be cashed in after a home purchase had been agreed.

James Clark of Parkheath in Belsize Park said: “Camden is a relatively young borough so in that respect I’m quite surprised that more first time buyers haven’t used the scheme.

“At the same time, in this office property prices start at around the £600,000 threshold so I haven’t dealt with anyone using Help to Buy myself.

“We do get first time buyers here but they tend to be high earners working in the City or Canary Wharf who have bigger deposits to put down and so can perhaps get more favourable mortgage terms than Help to Buy offers.”

The figures also show that the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee, where the government backs lenders offering risky 95 per cent loans, has been used by 15 Camden buyers.

Philip Hammond last week confirmed that the mortgage guarantee scheme would not be extended after the initial 2016 deadline had passed.

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Colin Payne of Chapelgate Private Finance said: “When the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme was launched it was a useful addition, however, over the last couple of years more and more lenders have been offering 95 per cent mortgages outside of the scheme.

“There is no problem nowadays with lenders raising funds, so if lenders offer 95 per cent mortgages outside the scheme on rates as competitive as, if not cheaper than, the Help to Buy guarantee rates, you can bet the lenders offering mortgages through the scheme can as well.

“It doesn’t surprise me that the Government are ceasing the scheme. I expect all lenders offering 95 per cent Help to Buy guarantee mortgages will continue to offer 95 per cent mortgages.

Help to Buy was launched in March 2013 by George Osborne when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. The scheme was designed to help people with limited equity get on the housing ladder, either through loans towards new build properties or government backed high loan to value mortgages.

However, the high price of homes in north London put the initiative out of reach of most buyers in expensive areas like Camden, even after the more generous London-only scheme was introduced earlier this year.