Cameron to unveil expansion of housing shared-ownership scheme


David Cameron is unveiling a major expansion of the Government's shared-ownership scheme, which ministers say will open the door to tens of thousands more people becoming homeowners.

The Prime Minister is setting out plans to sweep away restrictions on the scheme - which allows people in England to part-buy, part-rent properties, increasing their share of the ownership over time.

In a keynote speech - intended to highlight the Government's progress in delivering on its general election manifesto commitments - he will say rules preventing people from using the scheme more than once are to be abolished.

The change will free up people to move from one shared-ownership property to another - allowing them to use the capital they accrue to trade up to a bigger home as their families grow or their circumstances change.

At the same time, rules restricting shared ownership to people in particular professions - such as key workers - or who already live in a particular area will also be scrapped.

From April next year, anyone earning below £80,000 in England - or £90,000 in London - will be eligible for the scheme, potentially opening it up to 175,000 more people, Mr Cameron will say.

"For years, we've had shared ownership, where you part-buy, part-rent a property. So many people are attracted to this idea, especially those who thought they'd never have a chance of owning a home," he will say.

"But, because it's been heavily restricted, many of those people have missed out. We've had local councils dictating who is eligible, based on everything from salary to profession to where the buyer comes from."

Other areas of progress the Prime Minister will highlight in his speech include the building of new starter homes, the expansion of free childcare for working families, a crackdown on under-performing schools and an expansion of apprenticeships.

"A manifesto shouldn't be a wish-list; it should be a check list. And that's why, since the election, we haven't been tacking off in a new direction, but marking off the commitments we made," he will say.

For Labour, shadow housing minister John Healey said that Mr Cameron had presided over a fall of 200,000 home-owning households since coming to power in 2010, with tens of thousands fewer affordable homes to buy.

"The spending review revealed that the Government is set to halve funding for affordable homes compared to the plans inherited from Labour. At the same time they are driving a Housing Bill through Parliament which will choke off low-cost homes, including for shared ownership," he said.

"Families and young people on ordinary incomes who are struggling with high housing costs need a real plan for affordable homes to rent and buy, not just more hot air."