The chairman of one of Britain’s most successful banks has made “astonishing” comments suggesting that it’s “not that difficult” to get into the housing market in the UK’s current climate. Here’s the full story.
NatWest Chairman’s Controversial Stance on UK Property Market
Sir Howard Davies, the chairman of NatWest, recently stirred controversy with his assertion that entering the UK property market is “not that difficult.”
While appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Howard’s comments were met with skepticism from the presenter and drew criticism from various quarters.
Housing campaigners, political figures, and industry experts swiftly challenged the chairman’s statement, noting the increased challenges faced by individuals attempting to purchase homes in the current market.
Sir Howard’s Statement Raises Eyebrows
Sir Howard Davies, a prominent figure in the banking sector, made waves with his statement on the Today programme, suggesting that the process of getting on the property ladder in the UK is relatively straightforward.
This assertion immediately raised eyebrows, prompting the presenter to express disbelief, considering the widely acknowledged hurdles that many individuals encounter in the country’s housing market.
Sir Howard Davies said that people may “have to save more” but “I don’t think it is that difficult at the moment,” a comment that was met with disbelief.
Widespread Criticism Ensues
The presenter of the programme, Amol Rajan exclaimed, “To buy a house? In this country? Are we living in the same country, or are you reporting from overseas?”
The fallout from Sir Howard’s remarks was swift and widespread. Housing campaigners, political figures, and industry experts voiced their criticism, characterizing the chairman’s comments as “out of touch” with the current realities of the property market.
The criticism particularly focused on the increasing house prices, elevated mortgage costs, and the financial impediments confronting aspiring homebuyers, especially the younger demographic.
Rachel Reeves Challenges Sir Howard
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves joined the chorus of disapproval, branding Sir Howard as “out of touch” with the actual challenges faced by millions of people in Britain. She pointed out that while some individuals may own homes, they still grapple with higher mortgage costs, making Sir Howard’s comments seem disconnected from the economic difficulties that many families are presently navigating.
“I don’t think those comments are in tune with the reality faced by millions of people in Britain. There are many people who do own their own home but are struggling with the higher mortgage costs,” Reeves said.
Nigel Farage Weighs In
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, no stranger to disputes with NatWest, offered his perspective on Sir Howard’s comments. Farage contended that Sir Howard has “obviously not been talking to anybody under the age of 40.”
Farage emphasized the formidable obstacles faced by young people striving to enter the property market, especially in major cities, suggesting that Sir Howard is detached from the prevailing sentiments of the public.
“Anyone living in London or anywhere near London, or actually Manchester, or any of our big cities, they are Generation Rent. The only way they can get onto the property ladder is if their parents give them their inheritance early… It is all but impossible for young people to get on the property ladder”, Farage said.
Generation Rent Chief Executive’s Reaction
Ben Twomey, the chief executive of the housing campaign group Generation Rent, found Sir Howard’s comments “astounding,” particularly given his senior position in one of Britain’s major banks. “What planet does he live on?”
Twomey asked, “We are in a cost of renting crisis that is making it incredibly hard for people to buy a home as we hand a third of our wages every month over to our landlord”. He continued.s
In response to the mounting backlash, Sir Howard sought to clarify his comments. He stated “You have to save and that is the way it always used to be.” Followed by, “Given recent rate movements by lenders there are some early green shoots in mortgage pricing and while funding remains strong, my comment was meant to reflect that in this context access to mortgages is less difficult than it has been.”
Sir Howard also admitted, “I fully realise it did not come across in that way for listeners and as I said on the programme, I do recognise how difficult it is for people buying a home and I did not intend to underplay the serious challenges they face.”
Property Market Landscape and Recent Trends
Amidst the ongoing debate, recent reports indicated a 1.7% increase in property values across 2023, with the average home value rising by £4,800.
The post Not That Difficult for Young People to Buy a House in the UK Says Natwest Chairman first appeared on Edge Media.
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