Osborne defends mortgage scheme in speech

George Osborne has pledged to “fix the roof while the sun is shining” and run the economy at a surplus by the next parliament, the Conservative Party conference has heard.

Speaking today (Monday) at the conference in Manchester, the chancellor of the exchequer said the Tory-led coalition’s economic plan was working, with “Britain turning the corner”, and added that he hoped to deliver a “rare surplus” during the next parliament.

With the government bringing forward the implementation of the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme to next week, Mr Osborne also used his speech to defend against criticism it could create a new housing bubble.

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He said the Conservatives were a “party of aspiration and home ownership”, adding: “Too many people people are still being denied their dream of owning their own home”.

Speaking as the Bank of England announced a five-year high for mortgage approvals for August of 62,226, the chancellor said: “There are some people – many living in the richest parts of London, who say we shouldn’t be doing these things.”

“Take you arguments down the road to Nelson or Colne, where house prices have fallen for the past five years. Take your arguments to Bury, or Morecambe, where young working couples are still living at home with their parents.

“Take your arguments to our great towns and cities where there are families who have saved for years, earning decent salaries, who can afford the mortgage repayments but can’t possibly afford the deposit being asked by the banks these days.”

On the wider economy, Mr Osborne said the government’s goal was “recovery for all”, and while it had held its nerve with the implementation of cuts and austerity measures, many risks still remained.

The chancellor also aimed his fire at the Labour policy of imposing a freeze on energy costs, claiming it had been “done on the back of a fag packet”, and pledged to freeze fuel duty until 2015.

The MP for Tatton in Cheshire also announced a potentially divisive new policy which will require the unemployed to work for their benefits.