British Chancellor Gordon Brown will unveil a plan to provide up to 400,000 first-time buyers with cheap mortgages funded by public money. Under the plan, which will cost hundreds of millions of pounds over three years, buyers who could raise mortgages for half to three-quarters of the cost of a home would be able to "rent" the other share of the property, at a rate of no more than 3 per cent. "People who couldn't afford the full price of a home can afford the partial price . . . and gradually ramp up their stake," Mr Brown told The Observer. "It's putting home ownership within the reach of thousands of people who would not be able to do so." Harold Macmillan dreamed of a "property-owning democracy". Margaret Thatcher's "right-to-buy" policy enabled a million public housing tenants to buy the homes they lived in. Now the Blair Government wants to complete the Conservative vision of a nation of home-owners. But as with the Howard Government's young home buyers' grant, critics say the move will only help the wealthiest potential homeowners and will fuel an already overheated property boom. Advertisement AdvertisementHouse prices in parts of Britain are now eight times the average salary.