Yesterday, Bristol City Council announced plans to assist first-time buyers through a new scheme, to be operated in conjunction with Lloyds TSB.
The scheme is designed to tackle the gap between affordable housing and wages, which Bristol is dramatically short of meeting. Currently, the average house price in Bristol is £210,133 while the average earnings are £21,000. Alongside the recent economic crisis that means banks and building societies are loath to loan, especially to younger people, there are few options out there for first-time buyers.
Bristol City Council has thus agreed to act guarantor for 20% of mortgages up to £142,500, meaning that those looking to get onto the property ladder only need to raise a 5% deposit.
Of course, it’s good news to see Bristol City Council attempting to tackle the problem head on. Unfortunately, while this may help those looking to buy, what about the affordable housing issues as the other end of the scale?
The above news comes alongside the fact that today squatters were evicted from the old English school at the bottom of lower Park Row. It may surprise you to know that Bristol has the highest rate of homelessness outside of London. Those living in Clifton will be perhaps more shocked than those in St Pauls or Bedminster, but as a surprisingly small city, the problem is far too big.
The recent Occupy Bristol movement suffered from the similar problems. Homeless people joined the camp, disregarding any political motivations, because they had fires, shelter, company; all things that are particularly attractive when one is alone on the streets in the middle of winter.
While I am delighted that Bristol City Council recognises the housing problems currently facing Bristolians, I think a little more attention should be given to those trying to get into a house at all, not moving up a ladder. Just because the problem is more endemic does not mean it should be ignored.