Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Party Political Broadcast on housing and rates

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Source: Conservative Party Archive: BBC transcript
Editorial comments: Broadcast at 2000.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1515
Themes: Monetary policy, Housing, Local government, Local government finance


This morning Margaret Thatcher outlined the most forward looking and progressive plans for housing that any Party has come up with since the War. For the first time someone has gone back to basics, and the Tory proposals show it. They look at what people want. And the way people live. And they will work.

Mrs. Margaret Thatcher M.P.

I don't think we could honestly say we did get housing right last time we were in Government, but this time we are determined that things will be better. We have some new answers—and there have to be new answers because problems are changing all the time. They add up to this. Anyone who wants to own his own home can expect help from a Conservative Government, and we know what that help will cost. It won't be cheap, especially at a time when money is tight. But it's a question of where you spend Government money, and we spend it where it is needed and we know it's needed in housing. For instance, one of the most depressing problems is to struggle to buy your house and then to find you can't really afford to live there because the mortgage rate goes up and up and up.


We took this house a few years ago and we had a mortgage at 8½%; interest, now it's 11%;. In actual fact it's gone up by a third. I have also heard rumours that it's going—or could possibly go—to twelve, thirteen, is it going to stop or is it going to just keep rocketing on?

John Stanley M.P.

All those who have bought houses over the last few years have found the cost of their mortgages going up and up and for many people they've reached the absolute maximum that they can pay out in a mortgage. But like the Randals they're worried about the Mortgage Interest Rate going to thirteen, fourteen per cent or possibly beyond. And that is why the next Conservative Government is for the first time going to peg the Mortgage Interest Rate. [end p1]

Margaret Thatcher M.P.

Mortgage Rates fluctuate because of the way Building Societies have to do business. They can only lend in mortgages what they attract in savings. If they find it hard to bring in savings they have to charge higher rates to people with mortgages. A Conservative Government will reduce the rate of tax that Building Societies pay so that they don't have to pass that kind of increase on. In that way we shall hold down the interest rate Building Societies charge to home buyers. So this is our first promise. We shall reduce mortgage rates to 9½%; and we shall see that they don't go above that. Now that'll help everyone who's buying his own home, and it'll help him now, he'll know where he stands. Well, what about people who haven't got a mortgage and see no way of getting one? What about the first time buyer?


My husband and I have just come back from Germany after two years and we just can't find anything in our price range. We just can't find enough deposit.


I could pay a mortgage weekly, I've no doubt about that, but as for finding the deposit to get it started, that's the only problem about it.

Robert Renford M.P.[sic: a fictitious character?]

The misery that I see from people who are unable to save enough for the deposit to get started on buying their own houses really does appall me. It's all very well talking about the difficulty of keeping up mortgage repayments but something comes before that and I think the politicians have got to devise a scheme whereby people will be able to get enough together and save enough for the deposit in order to get started with that all-important first house of their own.

Margaret Thatcher M.P.

Getting the deposit together is the problem. We shall start a new scheme called the Home Savings Grant Scheme. People who save regularly with a Building Society will receive a grant in proportion to what they've saved themselves. So if you save say £5 a week, over at least two years, you'll be able to get a grant of £250. We shall start this scheme straight away and it'll take two years to get it fully into action. By that time the builders will be able to get enough extra houses ready. So for the first time, in a long time, if you haven't got a house, you can look forward to getting one. So here's our second promise. Real help with the deposit for first time home buyers. Then of course there are all those people who have got a house and yet they haven't, it's theirs and yet it's not theirs because it's a Council house and they want to buy it, but they can't.


The aim of any true Socialist is to strive for Utopia. What could be more Utopia than the working man owning his own home? But the funny thing about it is, it's the Socialists that are preventing him buying his own home.

Robert Renford M.P.

Why? what's their reason?


Well, in my mind it's one simple answer. They feel in their mind it's Party political dogma to sell the working man his own home, makes him that much more Conservative and that much less Socialist. [end p2]

David Knox M.P.

And why shouldn't people buy their Council house if they want to do so? All over the country there are hundreds of thousands of people living in Council houses who would like to buy their own Council house. The Conservatives believe that anyone who has occupied a Council house for three years should have the opportunity to do so and they should be offered that Council house at two—thirds of market value. That means for a Council house with a market value of £6,000 they would be offered it at £4,000. They would then pay—admittedly a little bit more in mortgage repayments than they pay in rent—but at the end of the period the house would belong to them.

Margaret Thatcher M.P.

People want a home they can call their own. The last Conservative Government encouraged Councils to sell but all too often Labour Councils refused. This brought disappointment to many many people, but this time we're going to make it a matter of the law of the land. If you've been a Council tenant for at least three years you'll have the right by law to buy your house and that's that. And you'll be able to buy it at a price that's one-third below market value. The only condition we make is that if you sell it within five years you'll have to return a proportion of any profit you make to the local authority. So here's our third promise. We promise you the right in law to buy your Council house at one-third below market price. All the time we're trying to be fair. But one thing that certainly isn't fair and is getting less fair all the time, is the present system of rates.

John Nott M.P.

Here in the West Country, in Cornwall, we live in a beautiful part of Great Britain and generally speaking people are pretty understanding of the Nation's problems. But this year I've never known such anger as there's been over the rates.


I feel that unless something is done very very soon we shall be priced out of living in our own homes.


I had a great shook, you see my rates, my personal rates have gone up by approximately seventy per cent, which is a tremendous amount for fixed income people.

John Nott

Because of changes made by the Labour Government it looked at one time as if the rates of ordinary houses would nearly double in South East Cornwall, in this area. It was not just the huge increase that caused so much worry, people are now fed up with the whole rating system altogether.

Margaret Thatcher M.P.

There's no doubt that the present system of rates is both old fashioned and increasingly unfair. Local Authorities have been spending at a faster rate than the economy's been growing. Sixty per cent of what they spend already comes from the taxpayer, but that still leaves a lot for the rate-payer to find and it's costing him more the whole time. Sometimes it's costing him more than he can afford because of the way rates are charged. It's quite different from something like Income Tax, indeed rates often have nothing to do with what you can afford to pay or with the services you receive. [end p3] We're going to do something for next year by having teachers' salaries paid for by Central Government. And the next thing we shall do is to get rid of the present system for household rates altogether. During the lifetime of the next Conservative Government we shall replace it with a different system of taxes, a system that relates to what people can afford to pay, and that must be fairer all round. So far as rates are concerned two promises. First we promise some immediate relief from the burden of local rates and second we promise to abolish local household rates in favour of a further system of taxation based on what you can afford.

In everything we do we're trying to help and we're trying to be practical and we're trying to spend money wisely. Our new policies are designed for the needs of today. A nation of home owners, who will be self reliant, independent and able to do what they want with their own lives in their own homes.