Home own­er­ship is a dis­tant dream

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - Gareth McPher­son

Ruth David­son posed a co­nun­drum that will chime with many young Scots. The Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive leader spoke of the con­flict for mil­len­ni­als in swathes of small town Scot­land be­tween stay­ing lo­cally and strug­gling to find a well-paid job and head­ing to the UK’s ma­jor cities, where there is lit­tle prospect of get­ting on the prop­erty lad­der.

A re­port out this week­end re­vealed parts of Courier Coun­try are among the most ex­pen­sive ar­eas in Scot­land.

The Bank of Scot­land re­search put Perth and Dundee in the top 10 prici­est places in the coun­try to buy a home based on cost per square me­tre.

Ed­in­burgh, of course, topped the list. At the other end of the scale, Glen­rothes and Leven of­fered the cheap­est hous­ing. As ever, the jobs tend to be where the house prices are steep­est.

Out-of-reach house prices are not a new phe­nom­e­non, of course but with wage stag­na­tion con­tin­u­ing and the cost of liv­ing ris­ing, the dream of home own­er­ship for many be­comes ever more dis­tant.

On top of that, the hang­over of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2008 means even those who can af­ford the mort­gage re­pay­ments are un­able to meet the de­posit de­mands.

Since the end of the last cen­tury, the pro­por­tion of 16 to 34-year-olds own­ing their home has dropped from 53% to 32%.

Over the same pe­riod, 1999 to 2015, those liv­ing in the pri­vate rented sec­tor has soared from 13% to 41%, while the num­ber of adults liv­ing with their par­ents has gone up.

This is a ma­jor con­cern for young peo­ple but the sub­ject does not seem to fea­ture highly in po­lit­i­cal dis­course.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has claimed suc­cess with its flag­ship Help to Buy schemes, with 10,000 house­holds ben­e­fit­ting – mostly first­time buy­ers and aged 35 or un­der.

How­ever, Labour anal­y­sis re­vealed the me­dian house­hold in­come of those tak­ing ad­van­tage was well above the av­er­age salary in Scot­land of £27,000 a year. This month the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s poverty ad­viser Naomi Eisen­stadt told Nicola Stur­geon there is a gap in pro­vi­sion for those low in­come house­holds who are not el­i­gi­ble for so­cial rent but can­not af­ford to buy.

She called for new schemes to help lower in­come first-time buy­ers. Fail­ure to do so, she warned, would see wealth in­equal­ity be­tween gen­er­a­tions only grow wider.

Ms David­son iden­ti­fied th­ese wannabe home­own­ers as ex­actly the as­pi­ra­tional de­mo­graphic a re­booted brand of mod­ern Con­ser­vatism should be reach­ing out to.

How­ever, she be­moaned the lack of ideas com­ing from the top of her party at UK level and called on Theresa May and com­pany to re­po­si­tion the Tories as the party of op­por­tu­nity.

The is­sue looks likely to be squeezed out in favour of the head-butting ex­changes over the con­sti­tu­tion, whether it be Brexit or in­de­pen­dence.

That will only serve to re­in­force the view that politi­cians are out of touch with what younger vot­ers re­ally care about.

Pic­ture: PA.

The pro­por­tion of younger home own­ers is drop­ping – and politi­cians don’t seem to be both­ered.

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