Osborne seeks to boost number of homeowners

Chancellor of the exchequer hopes to prop up the market by helping people buy properties

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 April, 2015, 6:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 April, 2015, 6:00am

British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne hopes to double the number of first-time homebuyers as opinion polls continue to show a tight race before the May 7 election.

Osborne told the Sunday Telegraph that his Conservative Party would seek to increase the amount of first-time buyers to 500,000 a year by 2020 if it won re-election.

"We can deliver a revolution in home ownership," he said, according to the newspaper. "We want to see a massive increase in the number of people who can own their own home."

Osborne has sought to rejuvenate Britain's housing market as a driver of the economy with programmes such as Help to Buy, in which the government assists those with small down payments to buy property. They would be extended to meet the new target, he said.

While warning that Greece could leave the euro area "by accident or mishap", Osborne maintained a focus on domestic politics by saying "the biggest risk at the moment" was an electoral victory by the opposition Labour Party.

Labour leader Ed Miliband used an interview with the Sunday People to criticise the so-called bedroom tax, where people see their welfare payments docked if they have unoccupied bedrooms.

"It means parents have less money to feed their children," he told the newspaper. "That's why it's such a cruel tax and why we'll get rid of it."

Polls showed the Conservatives and Labour still vying for the lead. A YouGov survey of 1,906 people in the Sunday Times put the Conservatives ahead on 34 per cent and Labour with 33 per cent. No margin of error was given. A week ago, Labour had a four-point lead.

An online Opinium poll of 1,959 adults for the Observer showed each party with 33 per cent, a one-point decline for the Conservatives from a week earlier.