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.