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Last Updated: Friday, 1 April, 2005, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Brown unveils home ownership plan
Gordon Brown and John Prescott at a poster launch
Mr Brown said voters should trust Labour's economic record
Gordon Brown has placed himself at the centre of Labour's election campaign with a pledge to create a million new homeowners if the party wins.

Labour wanted to create a "home-owning, wealth owning, asset-owning democracy" in Britain, the chancellor said.

He also pledged to build 15,000 starter homes on former NHS sites in England.

The Tories said Labour had knocked a generation off the housing ladder. The Liberal Democrats said the plans were "hopelessly unambitious".

'Mortgage risk'

The chancellor said he wanted to raise the level of property ownership from 70% to 75%.

This was achievable because of economic growth, a 5bn cut in spending on unemployment and a 5bn cut in the amount paid on debt interest payments, he said.

"The question people will want answered during the next few weeks is which party is going to take forward the economic stability and growth that has given us the lowest interest rates and inflation for more than 40 years?

"I believe that when people look at the Labour record ... they will decide it is too big a risk to go back to the party that created 10% inflation, 15% interest rates, negative equity and mortgage re-possessions."

As he made the announcement alongside Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Mr Brown unveiled a new campaign poster warning voters not to put their mortgage at risk by voting Conservative.

Labour housing plan
15,000 new homes on 100 former NHS sites
Expand shared equity scheme
Builders challenged to create 60,000 house

A third Labour government would help more people into home ownership in England and Wales, release more public land for building and introduce a shared equity scheme to make it easier for low paid and key workers to get on to the housing ladder, he said.

This would involve the government - with the Council of Mortgage Lenders - helping to finance a share in the equity of the houses that people buy.

Competition

The government is also running a competition for builders to come up with a 60,000 house, he added.

Conservative leader Michael Howard was dismissive of the plans.

"After eight years in power and just weeks before an election, Mr Blair now claims he's going to help people buy their own homes.

"But home-owners and first-time buyers will see this for what it is - more talk. They have been hard-hit by Labour's stealth taxes."

Cabinet meeting

The flagship Tory proposal on housing policy is to give a million more housing association tenants the right to buy their homes.

Lib Dem housing spokesman Ed Davey said the government's plans were "hopelessly unambitious" compared to its plan to build 100,000 affordable homes on publicly-owned land.

"A million new home owners may sound impressive, but it's just a continuation of the long term trend, when what we need is a step change. 'Instead of tinkering at the edges of the housing crisis, we need a full scale plan to tackle the problem of a whole generation priced out of the property market."

The Lib Dems meanwhile are focussing on the impact of council tax revaluations, which have just got underway.

Homelessness charity Shelter warned the government not to use public assets to help more people own their own home at the expense of those at the very bottom of the housing ladder.

"We believe today's announcement represents a significant shift of public money away from providing social rented housing towards subsidising home ownership - a cause for extreme concern."




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Gordon Brown's plans to help people own their own homes




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