This Government are making the dream of home ownership a reality, with the number of first-time buyers now at its highest level for 12 years. Over the past decade, our schemes like Help to Buy and Right to Buy have helped nearly 700,000 families to buy a home of their own. Applications for the Help to Buy affordable new-build scheme in Scotland have now been closed and the Scottish first home fund is currently paused, but the people of Scotland need not worry: we are working very closely with the Chancellor on how to increase the options for first-time buyers looking to access mortgages across the United Kingdom, which will, in turn, help more people in Scotland to become homeowners, from Glasgow to Inverness.
It is a fact that second home buyers often price out young first-time buyers in the highlands, and this of course takes me to that dread old spectre of highland depopulation. So on a personal level I would be extremely grateful if the Secretary of State could share his thinking and his methodology with the Scottish Government, and make every encouraging noise that he can to the Scottish Government, to make sure that young local people can buy homes in the highlands and live and work there in the years to come.
The hon. Gentleman and I share the same view that young people in this country should have every right to get on the housing ladder that those of us who were fortunate to do so in previous years had. It is a shame that the Scottish Government have chosen to close the Help to Buy scheme and to pause the first home fund without bringing forward any credible alternatives. Of course many of these issues are devolved, but where the Chancellor and I can take action in Scotland, we certainly will. As I said earlier, we are working very closely with the big banks on a UK-wide basis to see what more we can do to help first-time buyers access high loan to value mortgages and get on the ladder.