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State housing schemes ‘only help the wealthy’ – report

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State-sponsored housing schemes tend to help wealthier buyers rather than lower income groups, a report by the Social Mobility Commission reveals.

Low Cost Home Ownership (LCHO) are common-place in many countries, but the report said their impact on social mobility was likely to be small. It found: “Although the median household income of working families is £507 a week (equivalent to around £30k gross annually), 80% of beneficiaries of LCHO schemes had incomes above £30k pa.”

The report showed that 48% of first-time buyers benefiting from Help to Buy Equity Loans paid over £200k for their home. It also cited a recent report commissioned for the Department for Communities and Local Government, which found that the average (mean) gross household income at the time of the Help to Buy Equity Loan purchase was £47,050, and the median income was £41,323. This is higher than the average.

It added: “This indicates that these schemes are not expanding the social mobility by opening up home ownership to new groups of lower income households. Rather they are being used by households who would most likely buy anyway.”

It said that shared ownership schemes were likely to be a more effective route to home ownership, and is taken up by households with income very near median income. The commission report also stated that specific targeting mechanisms could improve the impact of LCHO schemes on social mobility: These include targeting of financial subsidies on households with incomes up to 1.5 times median income, but at different levels for different regions; and providing much more advice and guidance to appropriate working households from groups or communities without a history of ownership.

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