Tory London mayoral candidate: homeless can save for house deposit

Shaun Bailey’s claim that homeless people could afford £5,000 deposit prompts derision

Shaun Bailey
Shaun Bailey said those in temporary accommodation could apply for shared ownership properties. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters
Shaun Bailey said those in temporary accommodation could apply for shared ownership properties. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters
Social policy editor

Last modified on Wed 13 Jan 2021 23.36 EST

The Conservative candidate for London mayor has sparked controversy after suggesting that homeless people in the capital would be able to save up for a £5,000 deposit to buy a share in a newly-built affordable home.

Shaun Bailey has promised to deliver 100,000 affordable homes with his £4bn housing budget if he wins the election in April, many of them shared ownership, of which buyers would be able to purchase a share for as little as £100,000.

Asked in an interview with Inside Housing how this policy would benefit the capital’s 62,670 households currently in temporary accommodation, Bailey said he would encourage them to apply for shared ownership properties.

Asked how these families would produce a £5,000 deposit and secure a mortgage, he said: “I don’t think the £5,000 will [be a problem]. The mortgage application thing might be a bit tougher … they could save for it, yeah.”

Pressed by the interviewer on whether he was suggesting a homeless family in bed and breakfast accommodation could afford a deposit, Bailey replied: “Not all of them, but some people could. A full proportion of people could.”

He added: “I know about that situation, I sofa surfed for years. You’re right, I definitely couldn’t have come up with £5,000, but those people I’m not expecting to or asking to. We’ll provide social housing for them.”

Bailey, 49, said his intention was to build 100,000 affordable homes of all tenures in the capital – with shared ownership making up the largest proportion. This would “help Londoners attain a ‘stake’ in the city and serve those whose incomes are too high to qualify for social housing but still cannot afford to buy in the city”.

Shared ownership involves residents taking out a mortgage for a 20% to 75% share in a newbuild home, often developed by housing associations, and renting the remainder.

Although it is seen as a way of giving first-time buyers a foot on the property ladder, there are also drawbacks, including annual service charges.

Bailey’s comments attracted widespread bewilderment on Twitter. The Liberal Democrat councillor and candidate for London mayor, Luisa Porritt said: “Oh dear, the Tory candidate is at it again. This time he’s suggesting homeless families ‘save up’ for a deposit. Just how out of touch can he get?”

Lambeth Labour councillor Ed Davie tweeted: “Famously, people living in poverty usually have at least £5,000 lying around – it’s amazing that it hasn’t occurred to them to simply buy a London property, which are well known for being really cheap. Thank God senior Tories are here to give out this good advice.”