Mayor steps up help to get more Londoners on to property ladder

11 April 2011

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today revealed he is over three quarters of the way to delivering 50,000 affordable homes for Londoners by 2012. Today, the Mayor launched a new website to make it easier to find and apply for affordable homes in the capital.

Against the backdrop of an expensive London housing market, the Mayor has continuously explored new ways to help Londoners on to the home ownership ladder. He specifically wants to help workers and their families on low incomes, who are essential to the capital’s economic growth, to overcome one of the main challenges with the cost of living in the capital.

A new First Steps website will provide a one stop shop for Londoners to find homes under the Mayor’s First Steps programme. This offers a range of low cost home ownership opportunities, making it easier to search and apply for affordable homes and, crucially, containing an affordability calculator to help people work out the monthly cost of renting or buying.

Provisional figures show that, despite the toughest economic climate for decades, 38,840 new affordable homes have been delivered since Boris Johnson was elected. This means the Mayor remains on track to deliver his pledge of 50,000 more affordable homes by the end of March 2012, a record for a Mayoral term.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The capital is a fantastic city to live in, but for those on lower or middle incomes, getting on to the housing ladder can be extremely tough. So it is excellent news that we are closing in on delivering this record target of 50,000 new affordable homes, in spite of some of the worst economic conditions for many years. This, along with a great new website, will go a long way to helping many more Londoners into affordable homes and, if they wish, to take the first step into home ownership.”

Today the Mayor visited the Evolution – Sterling Green (Barratt Homes) housing development in Barnet to see for himself progress on over 60 affordable homes that are being delivered through his First Steps programme. During the visit the Mayor encouraged developers to bid for a share of the Government’s new £210 million ‘FirstBuy’ scheme which offers an equity loan of up to 20 per cent of a property’s value to help first time buyers who could not otherwise afford to buy a home of their own.

Councillor Lynne Hillan, Leader of Barnet Council, said: “I’m delighted to welcome the Mayor to Barnet to see how the borough is playing its part in delivering affordable homes to the residents who most need them.

“We are striving to create successful mixed tenure communities which compliment the suburban environment we are so lucky to have in this borough. We are working closely with our private sector partners who have an important role to play in constructing homes which will be desirable to live in, and benefit many of our residents in the years to come.”

Alastair Baird, Regional Managing Director of Barratt London, said: "Barratt London is providing much needed affordable housing in Barnet and will continue working with the Mayor across the capital, getting people on to the housing ladder and delivering high quality new homes for all Londoners.”

Notes to editors

1. The First Steps website can be accessed via the following link www.firststepslondon.org

2. In 2008 election the Mayor committed to delivering the First Steps housing programme to enable many more Londoners to become homeowners. First Steps is the brand name for intermediate housing in London – it is the London equivalent of the national ‘HomeBuy’ housing product.

3. Since 2006 there has been a London focussed website – ‘Housing Options’ – run by London HomeBuy agents, where customers could find out information about, and apply for, intermediate housing throughout the capital. The London HomeBuy agents (Metropolitan Home Ownership and L&Q Group) are funded through the Homes and Communities Agency.

4. This website has been improved, refined and remodelled to improve the customer journey and has been re-launched as First Steps. Key improvements to the website mean a more customer friendly and easier to use system, which helps customers to search for a suitable property to meet their needs and a useful affordability calculator which helps customers find properties they may be able to afford. These improvements and rebranding have been carried out as part of the London HomeBuy agents’ contract with the HCA and no cost has been incurred by the GLA.

5. The recent Budget announced £210 million for England to help up to 10,000 first time buyers by providing up to 20% of a deposit through an equity loan. FirstBuy, jointly funded by the Homes and Communities Agency and developers, will also support economic growth by giving house builders confidence to progress developments. Bids close on 19 May. Visit www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/firstbuy-scheme-launched.htm for more information.

6. The Mayor will oversee bids in London and is encouraging developers from across the city to come forward with schemes.

7. HCA year end results will be underwritten in due course.