The Government are committed to making the aspiration of home ownership a reality for as many people as possible. That is why we recently announced that participating lenders will be able to offer high loan-to-value mortgages supported by their Help to Buy mortgage guarantee schemes three months earlier than planned. I was pleased to hear that Lloyds Banking Group recently announced that the first such mortgage was taken out by a first-time buyer in Dartford, Kent.
Under Labour, the number of first-time buyers fell to its lowest level for 25 years, from an average of 470,000 a year in the early 2000s to around 190,000 by 2008. That destroyed the hopes and aspirations of many hard-working families. This Government’s two Help to Buy schemes will help thousands of hard-working people to get on the housing ladder, including those in Elmet and Rothwell and those throughout the UK.
Does the Minister share my concern that, reportedly, some young people have actually given up saving for a deposit, and will he ensure that those of us on the Government Benches will stand with those people who have a dream of home ownership to make sure it can be fulfilled?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Some Opposition Members believe that only people who have rich parents that can help them meet some of the large deposit requirements should be able to buy their own home. That is not the policy of this Government, who support hard-working families.
On the issue of fiscal steps to help people buy homes, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said last year that people buying homes through a company to avoid tax was unacceptable, and he would come down on it
“like a ton of bricks”.
Has he investigated reports that the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond), has avoided tax in that way, and will he come down on him like a ton of bricks?
I welcome the hon. Lady to the shadow Front Bench team. I look forward to debating with her. The Government have already taken steps to ensure that property buyers pay more in tax, by increasing stamp duty and by dealing with purchases through companies, and it would not be appropriate for any Minister to make a comment on any individual’s tax circumstances.