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Housing

Liz Truss vows to make rent payments count in mortgage assessments if she’s named prime minister

Truss doubled down on her plans to end “Stalinist” housebuilding targets as she laid out her proposals to boost home ownership.

Downing Street hopeful Liz Truss has looked to The Big Issue for her plans to boost home ownership by making rent payments count when considering if people can afford a mortgage.

Under current rules, tenants with years of never missing a rent payment see no benefit when applying for a mortgage. 

Truss said she would seek to incorporate rent payments into mortgage affordability assessments as part of the government’s upcoming mortgage review if she is named prime minister.

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The idea echoes Big Issue founder and crossbench peer Lord John Bird’s Creditworthiness Assessment Bill, which failed in its bid to become law between 2017 and 2019 after failing to attract government support.

Lord Bird said: “It is good to see that Liz Truss is building on the work we did in parliament with the Creditworthiness Assessment Bill of 2017.

“Being able to use your rental payments record for building your creditworthiness is a hope that has taken a long time to fill. Piggybacking off our creditworthiness bill is the best form of compliment.”

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Now Truss plans to change the way mortgages are assessed, claiming that government statistics show half of renters could afford a mortgage but only 6 per cent can access a typical first-time buyer mortgage.

The foreign secretary also insists the public back the idea, citing a YouGov poll from February that found three-quarters of Brits think lenders should accept rent payments as proof buyers can afford a mortgage.

“People are getting older and older before they get their foot on the property ladder. It’s a problem not just for the Conservative party, but for the future of the country,” said Truss.

“As prime minister I would break down barriers and unlock the opportunity of homeownership for millions of hard-working renters across the nation.”

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Truss also doubled down on her pledge to scrap government housing targets after previously describing them as “Stalinist”.

Boris Johnson included a target of building 300,000 new homes by the mid-2020s in the 2019 Conservative manifesto.

But the government has never come close to hitting that figure and in recent months former housing secretary Michael Gove insisted he did not want to be stuck to the target.

Gove also told The Big Issue: “How quickly we can reach it, I couldn’t say,” when quizzed over hitting the target in June before his departure.

Truss plans to get rid of the targets altogether as the UK faces a housing crisis partly driven by a lack of affordable homes to meet demand.

Instead, Truss said she would “rip up the red tape holding back house building” by putting the task of building homes in the hands of local councillors.

Truss’ proposed planning reforms include ditching measures like nutrient neutrality to speed up a planning system she describes as “too bureaucratic, too slow and too complex”. Nutrient neutrality rules require planning applications to determine the impact of development on rivers, estuaries and wetlands when building properties.

Truss also promised to encourage housebuilding on brownfield sites among the reforms.

“I will also rip up red tape that’s holding back house building and give more power to local communities,” said Truss.

“As a former councillor I remember those painful hours sitting through planning committees. I’ll put power back in local councillors’ hands who know far better than Whitehall what their communities want.”

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