Low-cost housing schemes still confuse London buyers

The vast range of new affordable housing schemes still confuse many Londoners
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Three out of four first-time buyers in London are “bamboozled” by the government’s low-cost housing schemes, according to research commissioned by the Mayor of London.

Boris Johnson wants affordable housing rules simplified and income limits raised from £60,000 to £75,000 for joint applicants.

A poll by Ipsos MORI showed the schemes to be so “shrouded in confusion”, many low- and middle-income Londoners fail to use them.

Seventy-five per cent of eligible Londoners wrongly believe the maximum qualifying salary for a single person is £30,000 (half the actual limit), while 50 per cent mistakenly believe they have to be a key worker to qualify. Most schemes are open to anyone with earnings between £20,000 and £60,000.

Applicants often believe the process will be slow and difficult, though all government-funded schemes are easily accessed through only two official agents for London - Metropolitan Home Ownership and London & Quadrant (see www.housingoptions.co.uk.

Under the Government’s Housing Options plan, first-time buyers can take advantage of one of several competing low-cost schemes ranging from shared ownership, offered by housing associations, to New Build HomeBuy, offered by private developers. Rent-Now-Buy-Later is also available.

Ron Lawrence, chair of the tenants’ committee at Shepherd’s Bush Housing Association, criticised the Mayor’s proposal to increase the HomeBuy income threshold to £75,000, arguing the policy emphasis should be on providing affordable rents.

“If you need an income of £75,000 to get on the property ladder then clearly homes are still not affordable. What we need is decent and genuinely affordable rented housing. A lot of people have been lured into shared ownership who cannot afford it.”

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