With wages not having risen at the same rate as house prices in recent years, I know that many are left feeling that home ownership is beyond their grasp. Just 20 years ago, a home cost on average four and a half times average incomes. Today, that figure has doubled.
I share the government's ambition to tackle this issue and enable as many people as possible to enjoy the benefit and security provided by having a place to call their own. The Prime Minister has announced a review into the mortgage market to help widen the availability of low-cost, low-deposit mortgages along with measures to support people to save for a deposit. This builds on the existing government-backed mortgage scheme offering a guarantee to lenders providing mortgages for those with a five per cent deposit for properties up to £600,000 in value.
Alongside this, the government will be working with the Housing Association sector in the coming months to bring forward a new Right to Buy scheme. It will work for tenants, giving millions more the chance to own their home by 2024. I understand that there will be a one-to-one replacement of each social housing property sold. You can read more on this here.
Reforms in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will lay the ground work for supporting the building of more homes, as well as driving up home ownership. I'm sure that we can all agree that fixing the housing shortage is not just about building more but also ensuring that the planning system works for those that use it. It is vital that communities are given a louder voice over local development. I look forward to seeing the Bill progress through Parliament.
While it was pleasing to hear that there were over 400,000 first time buyers last year which is a 20 year high, there is still work to be done to tackle the barriers to home ownership. The government has my full support in these efforts.