The Labour Party has revealed plans for a Freedom to Buy scheme which will combat North Somerset’s housing crisis by helping young people to get their first home.

    Finding affordable accommodation is harder in North Somerset than in many other parts of the country. In 2020, Office of National Statistics figures showed the average cost of a house in the county  was equivalent to 9.5 times the average annual full-time workplace-based earnings, compared to 7.8 times in England and 5.9 in Wales, and more than double the ratio of 4.5 in 2000.

    Private rental costs have also increased substantially during the same period and figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities show that the number of new social housing lets in North Somerset has slumped by more than 10% over the past decade.

    Research carried out for North Somerset Council last year showed that there are some 1,700 households in the area living in unsuitable accommodation and unable to afford their own housing.

    The study also showed that, over the next 15 years, there will be a need to provide affordable housing for more than 4,000 households unable to afford to rent or buy. Yet figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities revealed that just 378 affordable homes were built in North Somerset in 2022/23.

    Labour’s new Freedom to Buy scheme would support over 80,000 young people across the UK to get on the housing ladder over the next five years. The plans for first-time buyers will help families who struggle to save for a large deposit by providing a permanent mortgage guarantee scheme to help working people get a mortgage and buy a home.

    Labour also plans to give young people the freedom to move out of their childhood bedroom by building more homes — a total of 1.5 million new homes over the next Parliament. Several other policies announced in Labour’s manifesto — including ending no-fault evictions, leasehold,‘fleecehold’, and unfair maintenance costs — will also help tackle the housing crisis in North Somerset.

    Sadik Al-Hassan, Labour’s candidate for North Somerset, commented: “After 14 years of Tory chaos and broken promises, housing — like so many other aspects of our lives — is in crisis, with the dream of home ownership being out of reach for so many people. I’m currently house hunting in Portishead and know just how tough the housing market is. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like for a young person, with rents and house prices at such high levels.”

    “Young people in North Somerset deserve the help to buy a home,” he added, “and I am proud that we will provide a scheme to help working people get a mortgage for the home they need and the future where they can also succeed in a fairer Britain.”

    Richard Westwood, former Labour Party District Councillor added: “Our current Tory MP, Liam Fox, is totally out of touch with the reality of life for far too many people in North Somerset. Whilst he occupies three homes — his constituency home, his second home in London which he rents out, and his taxpayer-funded home in London — years of Conservative chaos and the failure to build new affordable accommodation to replace sold-off council housing has left us with a shocking shortage of decent new homes.

    “Liam Fox and the Conservative government have denied a generation the opportunity to get onto the housing ladder; a Labour government and a Labour MP in North Somerset will be dedicated to changing that,” he added.

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