The idea was that Brits would put their savings into a special account and the government would top up those savings by 25 percent (up to £3,000 a year). But the government money would only be given to you when you actually bought a house, to stop people snaffling government funds for a blowout at Topshop or an all-inclusive holiday to Ibiza or whatever.
The problem with this plan is that most people who buy a house only pay the deposit upfront (and use a mortgage, i.e. a loan paid off in monthly installments, for the rest). And that deposit has to be paid before you’ve technically ‘bought’ the house, making it nearly impossible to use the Help to Buy ISA for the bit of house-buying most people needed their Help to Buy bonus for.
The upshot was that a quarter of home-buying was delayed as people realised they didn’t have as much money as they thought they did. And the government hasn’t made much of an effort to clear the confusion up, because 70 percent of wannabe home-buyers still think they will be able to use their Help to Buy bonus to pay for their deposit.
Tbf, none of this may matter for long, because the government is scrapping the Help to Buy ISA in 2019. It's replacing it with a Lifetime ISA where the 25 percent government bonus can be used for a first-time home or your retirement (yay) but where the maximum the government will give you is now is only £1000 a year (boo).
… most of us live in a home of friends, family, or with a partner. Our homes are like mini-economies, with their own systems of dividing up work, providing resources, and exchanging skill-sets. Not only do these affect our ideas of who does what on a wider scale, our homes themselves and where they’re located have an effect on the economy around us, and the economy we experience.