Sir Howard Davies, the chairman of NatWest bank, faced backlash following his remarks about the accessibility of buying a house in the UK. His comments, suggesting that it wasn’t overly challenging for individuals to step onto the property ladder, drew criticism from various quarters.

Davies, earning £764,000 annually according to the bank’s latest report, mentioned that while some might encounter initial hurdles, aspiring homeowners needed to save, implying this was the traditional route to home ownership. However, after widespread backlash, he later clarified that he didn’t intend to diminish the serious hurdles faced by people seeking to purchase a home.

The discussion arose amid concerns about the declining rate of homeownership in the UK, which fell from 71% to 65% between 2004 and 2021, predominantly due to skyrocketing property prices.

During an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Davies remarked that purchasing property wasn’t particularly difficult at present, emphasizing the importance of saving. He highlighted the risks associated with easy access to mortgage credit, citing the financial crisis and the subsequent repercussions for homeowners who borrowed extensively.

This conversation occurred alongside a report from Halifax indicating a 1.7% increase in average property values in 2023, with the typical home value rising by £4,800 compared to the previous year. The average cost of a UK home in December was reported at £287,105, reflecting a 1.1% increase from the previous month.

The response to Davies’s comments was swift and critical. Generation Rent, a campaign group, expressed astonishment at his statements, emphasizing the difficulty many face due to high rental costs, making it arduous to save for a substantial deposit.

Similarly, Nigel Farage criticized Davies’s perspective, highlighting the challenges faced by young people in amassing sufficient savings for property deposits, citing it as a deterrent to their aspirations of homeownership.

Overall, Davies’s remarks sparked significant backlash, reflecting the prevailing challenges faced by many in the UK housing market, particularly younger individuals aiming to purchase their first homes.