FACT CHECK: Was Cameron’s Help To Buy photoshoot a complete fraud?

Critics of the British government’s new Help to Buy scheme have claimed that the policy, which helps prospective homeowners onto the housing ladder, is inflationary and set to create a new housing bubble in the United Kingdom.

Business Secretary Vince Cable has expressed his concerns over a “raging housing bubble” in London, and even ratings agency Standard and Poors have expressed concerns over the policy.

But Cameron’s concerns over the Help to Buy scheme may take yet another hit this week, as online sleuths claim that his photo shoot with a single-looking mother who has supposedly benefitted from Help to Buy is indeed a complete fraud.

Message board user ‘Nickd’ posted a fisking of the entire publicity stunt that took place earlier this week, revealing potentially embarrassing details about the entire affair. Nickd goes as far as to display that the ‘single mother’ pictured with Cameron not only has not recently purchased a house, but is also a rather well-off real estate agent with a partner in a similar trade. It is claimed that she also recently acquired a brand new BMW convertible.

Gallingly, the property in question, on Regents Park Road in Southampton, was even purchased at a knockdown rate through Enfields Property Services, where Sharon O’Donnell has been a Sales Director for nearly eight years.

Initially, the story looks terrible for Cameron, the government, and the policy in general. Since when were BMW convertible owners, both making wads of cash, and purchasing properties through their employers at a knockdown rate, the “hardworking people” that the Conservative Party claims to stand for?

But on further inspection of the case, and really rather intrusive inspection into someone’s personal life, the smoking guns of the message board post disappear.

Indeed, it is evident that the policy is not really just for “hardworking people” for the fact that it covers properties worth up to £600,000. This is a fact that is seldom hidden away. But that’s not to say that Ms. O’Donnell isn’t genuinely a hard-working person to whom the policy is a great help.

O’Donnell works 39 hours a week, has a young child, and has stated publicly that she split from her partner over six months ago, adding, “not that it is relevant”. She also makes clear that said BMW convertible is a company car, which would make sense for a successful estate agent with over 10 years in the business.

Finally, Nickd claims that the Land Registry website does not display that the property has changed hands, which indeed it doesn’t. The lower floor flat is still listed on the RightMove website for £144,950, and you can see that the pictures indeed correlate with those in the Cameron photo shoot. But on closer inspection, the photo on the site shows a “SOLD STC” sign in the bottom right corner, and the Land Registry can take some months to update their website. Another smoking gun gone.

So all that remains even remotely “dodgy” about Cameron’s PR stunt is that Ms. O’Donnell got the property at a snip for £135,000 from the company she works for. Well, as Nickd inadvertantly points out, she was named the “Negotiator of the Year for three years in succession” by her firm, and in any case, it is quite usual for employees of companies to get discounts where they work.

FACT CHECK VERDICT: No smoking gun. Desperate attempt to attack a government PR stunt.



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  • Inflating

    I’ve read and reread your ‘no smoking gun’ assertion and no I cannot see what you’re driving at. I must be thick I suppose, but to me it looks like Nickd is almost entirely correct. If I wanted to be unkind I could think you’re perhaps trying to bask in Nickd’s glory, frankly. And the PR stunt does look terrible, because frankly it is. We voted Tory (never again by the way) and we got something really rather nauseating.

  • John O’Connell

    The critics point is that she was used as example of a typical single mum.

    Well, she’s hardly that. 2 relatively high household incomes, you’d wonder at all whether she even needed help to buy, especially when the property came at a discount. So she’s hardly the target market of those who the help-to-buy scheme will make a difference.

    Her situation in the PR stunt was totally misrepresented. And that’s the point.

  • brit1664

    The whole episode was a fraud to promote her business activities and to distract from the huge amount of detractors overwhelmingly against David Cameron’s Help to Buy scheme. Yes David Cameron’s Help to Buy scam scheme which encourages people to take 95% mortgages on inflated priced properties. There is a reason lenders stopped providing 95% mortgages and that is because we have a housing bubble and it would leave people in negative equity.

    Meanwhile it is bubble high prices which are stopping first time buyers getting on the market. I am disgusted that the fact I have hard worked 10 years to save a deposit with a well paid job and I am priced out of the market.

    Why is this government promoting a house price bubble with record low interest rates, Quantitative Easing, Funding for Lending, SMI, Help to Buy and other interventionist schemes rather than let the free market run its course.

    I won’t be voting Tory next election, I am disgusted at this corruption.

  • http://www.thecommentator.com/ Raheem Kassam

    Except she’s not with that bloke anymore. So one above average income.

  • http://www.thecommentator.com/ Raheem Kassam

    Except we’ve debunked every single one of Nickd’s assertions… using facts. Hence “FACT” check.

  • Inflating

    Unfortunately, no one I’ve shown your ‘debunking’ to really gets what you’re saying. We’re obviously all too thick to see what you can see. As is the Daily Mail that’s now running with this story. Disappointing though isn’t it that almost everyone but you is so blinkered and just can’t see how right you are. We can but look to you for guidance. Thank goodness you’re here to save us with your PhD in debunking.

  • Christopher Greene

    Wow Raheem Kassam how much do the Tories pay you to shill for them? Your ‘debunking’ is partisan nonsense as everyone posting below sees. The Tories should stop paying you because you’re crap at it.

  • Steve Lloyd

    If your allegiance lies with a certain party, then it’s hardly unexpected for a commentator to come out in support or defence of that party and/or its leader, so I think it’s a bit harsh of posters to attack Raheem for his loyalty. But Cameron is a fraud, practically everything he does or says is a fraudulent attempt to convince the British people he is on their side, when he patently isn’t. So yes, a fraudulent policy from a fraudulent man.

  • Inflating

    Telegraph is running with it now too. Please let them know you have debunked it and also advise them to refer to your website before running any stories in future.

  • keith

    so an estate agent got a property at a knock down price that was on their books, i wonder what the property owner was told about the deal, was the best price achieved for them, i think we should be told, after all it might not have been the best price that could have been achieved on an open and fair market without inside knowledge

  • Dougie

    A 7% discount on the asking price. Quite normal if the property has been on the market for a few months and the vendor is keen to sell. No smoking gun there.

  • richjohnston

    Is it really intrusive if it’s stuff that’s been publicly posted by the individual?

  • Inflating

    Now the Independent are running with a big spread on the story to add to the Telegraph’s page 3 spread. I mean, didn’t they read your debunking??!

  • keith

    not like the city then, insider dealing and knacker of the yard is onto you, but i take it estate agents still live in the wild west