Sharon Ray, the young single mother chosen to promote the scheme to help people struggling to raise the deposit to get on to the property ladder, turned out to be a successful estate agent who bought her £145,000 house through the company she works for and drives a BMW.
This prompted strong criticism online, with questions raised about whether the scheme is really intended to help people like her.
How I See It
John Higginson, head of comms, Westbourne Communications
Oh dear! As if Help to Buy hadn’t faced enough of a pummelling since it was announced in last year’s Budget, along comes a PR stunt from hell.
Some schmuck has only gone and stuck the Prime Minister on a sofa with a pretty young thing who just happened to sell the house to herself. Clang! Memories of MPs flipping and flogging each other's homes are too near to the surface not to bubble up at moments like these.
Did no-one ask what she did for a living before telling our dear leader to join her for a cuppa in her new home? Worse still it seems: she drives a £33,000 convertible BMW – worth, when new, more than the £29,000 loan she’s being given by the Government for her £145,000 home.
Often people think the Government has massive resources, but it actually has less than most large companies. These things are done on the hoof with a relatively small team. This is a case of a person having a few too many drinks over Christmas and not doing a proper background check. They would have checked that she’s a Tory, but the fact she’s an estate agent should have raised a flag, because it looks like she’s in a privileged position.
The lesson here is that if the PM is going to do any kind of cheesy picture to make sure you do a full background check and uncover everything that anyone else could find.