Tens of thousands of wealthy families abused taxpayer-funded loans meant to help struggling homebuyers get on the property ladder, a report has revealed.
Nearly two-thirds of those who bought houses using Help to Buy could have afforded to do so without the scheme.
One in every 25 – nearly 9,000 buyers – earned a salary of more than £100,000.
And of the 211,000 who have benefited from the scheme, one in five were not even first-time buyers – those it was meant to help.
Help to Buy scheme has been ruthlessly exploited by tens of thousands of people who didn't need it [File photo]
The report by the National Audit Office also shows the Government loan scheme has helped housebuilders rake in huge profits, with firms such as Persimmon and Barratt selling nearly four in ten of their properties via Help to Buy.
At the same time it has left the public finances dangerously exposed to a downturn in the property market, it claimed.
Critics said the report showed the scheme is a 'costly, useless mess' which has wasted billions of taxpayers' cash.
Help to Buy was the brainchild of then-Chancellor George Osborne in 2013. It enables anyone buying a new-build house worth up to £600,000 to borrow 20 per cent of its value from the Government – or 40 per cent in London. No fees are paid for this loan for the first five years.
The loans are aimed at helping young people by helping those who could not otherwise afford a home because they do not have a large enough deposit.
Housing Minister Kit Malthouse says Help to Buy has been "life-changing for first-time buyers" in the UK
But only 37 per cent of those who took one would have been unable to get on the housing ladder without it, the report from the National Audit Office found.
This suggests 63 per cent – around 78,000 buyers – did not need the taxpayers' help. More than 92,000 buyers earned more than £50,000, while 8,891 had a combined household income of more than £100,000.