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‘Govt discriminating against homeowners’

Homeowners now only get 6 per cent of the Government’s help with housing costs, according to the UK Housing Review 2004/2005.

The review says that while help with housing costs for private and social sector tenants has increased, it has reduced dramatically for homeowners since the early 1990s.

The review, written by Professor Steve Wilcox and published by the CML and the Chartered Institute of Hou-sing, shows that in 1990/1991, the combination of welfare benefits, tax relief, grants and subsidies to homeowners totalled around 9.3bn but this dropped to just 933m in 2002/03.

Benefits and subsidies for social renting rose from 6.3bn to 10.8bn over the same per-iod while support for the private rented sector rose from 1.5bn to 3.2bn.

The report points out that half of the poorest households in the UK are owner-occupied and asks if it is right for these people to get just 6 per cent of total Government help with housing costs.

CML deputy director general Peter Williams says: “We have known for years that half the poor are homeowners yet the framework of assistance directly discriminates against them. The lending industry works hard to make homeownership as sustainable as possible but there is no question that poor homeowners are disadvantaged compared with tenants at similar levels of income. This requires policy attention.”

CIH director John Perry says: “With homeownership now accounting for more than two-thirds of households in the UK, it is inevitable that poverty problems can be experienced among those who own as well as among those who rent. This description of the dramatic nature of the reduction in support should give policymakers pause for thought.”

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