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What is the Government s Starter Homes Initiative

01:00 Thu 20th Dec 2001 |

A. It is a scheme, initially worth 250 million over three years, to help key public sector workers get onto the housing in property hot spots.

Q. Why has it been introduced

A. The continuing rise in property price, particularly in London but also in other areas of the country, has many of those who have joined professions such as the police, nursing and teaching simply can't afford to buy property near where they work.

For instance, while a teacher in inner London might expect to be earning around 22,000 after three years, it is estimated that an income of over 40,000 is needed to buy an average property in almost any of the 32 boroughs. This has led to difficulties recruiting staff, staff moving out to regions where they can afford to buy and perhaps most damaging of all, putting people off joining these professions altogether.

Q. Where else apart from London does the scheme operate

A. Two thirds of the money is set aside for London, but there are also GSI schemes in across the South East in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire and into Wiltshire, Hampshire and the hot-spots in the South West such as Bristol.

Q. So how does it work

A. Local authorities bid for funding under the scheme and nominate sections of the workforce to be targeted. Successful applicants can buy between 25 and 75 per cent of the property's value by way of a standard mortgage with the scheme making up the rest.

A housing association then buys the rest and charges rent on its share. The tenant can then buy further shares of the property off the housing association if and when they can afford it, called staircasing.

Depending on the nature of the scheme, when the time comes to sell the property the housing association will buy it from the tenant and then use the house or flat to house other key workers in the area. It is not designed to allow the tenants to make a profit on their share. Bear in mind there is a cut-off point of 42,000 which includes jointly the applicant and any partner looking to buy.

Q. What about those who are on relatively low incomes but are not in the public sector or considered key workers

A. There are alternative schemes like Homebuy, where the government provides a loan for up to 25 per cent of the value of the property. This has been running for a number of years now and is often over-subscribed. It is worth talking to your local housing associations to find out if similar joint ownership schemes are available in your area.

Q. Where can I get more information

A. There is a Starter Homes Unit hotline on 020-7944 4519, or you can e-mail starterhome at or write to The Starter Home Unit, DTLR, Zone 2/E1, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU. The Website is at

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By Tom Gard

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