Yesterday I went to my first formal engagement as the portfolio holder for housing at Elmbridge Borough Council. This was the Home Buy event at the Walton Playhouse organised by the Catalyst Housing Group.
There were stalls there manned by Catalyst and by various other social landlords such as the Rosemary Simmons Housing Trust and even by national housebuilders such as Crest Nicholson. The purpose of the event is to attract those who might otherwise think they had no prospect of owning their home to come and look at the various incentive schemes now on offer. One of the key schemes is shared ownership, which requires a smaller than usual deposit and where the repayments usually involve an element of rental payment for that part of the proeprty which is not owned by the buyer. Solicitors and mortgage advisors were on hand to provide practical advice. None were charging for their services.
I was delighted to see that there was a queue for the various stallholders and even a line to get in to the event. It is essential in a wealthy area like Elmbridge that every effort is made to help people, often young people in front-line service professions, to get on to the housing ladder. As things stand our children and our key workers are having to move out of the borough to cheaper properties elsewhere. That places an extra burden on them for transport costs and in turn leads to traffic build-up on our roads.
I am delighted that this borough was able to host this event and I am pleased that we made a good effort to advertise it widely. It was a great introduction to my new role.