Reforming Shared Ownership in England
A discussion paper prepared by Future Housing Review
I have long thought the expansion of shared ownership may be one of the many answers we need to tackle the growing challenge of affordable housing. What we see across London, the South East and the rest of the UK is a housing market that leaves many individuals unable to grasp the dream of home ownership. In recent years Help to Buy has done a lot to encourage young people on to the ladder but there are still many individuals who need more help to get started.
The principles of shared ownership are to be applauded. It helps people who can’t afford the huge deposit or mortgage necessary in the open market to buy a percentage of their home and work towards full ownership. However, there are problems with the way in which shared ownership schemes operate in practice. There is confusion because of the complexity of schemes available and it is patently unfair that the part-owner should bear all the costs of maintenance and repairs. As a society we are demanding more and better availability of affordable homes. To meet that demand we need to ensure we have enough properties, and we must give individuals a range of options to buy those properties.
At the start of the new Parliament it has become clear that home ownership is one of the Government’s top priorities. I secured a debate on shared ownership at the start of the new session of parliament and put forward my ideas. I was pleased to receive a warm response from the Minister and I am actively expanding my suggested policies now.
I think the importance of individuals having a range of options is clear. We all have different constraints and priorities. What I want in a home, what I want in location and what I want in price will not be the same as anyone else. We need to make sure first time buyers have as many options as possible. This discussion paper prepared by Future Housing Review opens the debate on what those options should be, concentrating on the offering from shared ownership schemes. Nigel Turner puts forward some very interesting thoughts and ideas all of which deserve consideration.
To improve the huge pressure on affordability of homes I have no doubt we must improve the options for shared ownership. There are many ways we can do that and I am sure many, like Nigel, have some game-changing ideas that will ultimately give individuals the right opportunities to achieve their dreams of home ownership.
Iain Stewart MP