Housing ladder leg-up for those on lowest incomes

12 December 2006
The government has amended the Open Market HomeBuy shared equity scheme, which aims to assist first-time buyers looking to get a first foot on the property ladder, to make it friendlier to those on lower incomes.

The scheme, brokered between the government and mortgage lenders, supplements individuals' contributions towards putting down a mortgage with government money.

Chancellor Gordon Brown unveiled the changes, which enable homebuyers looking for assistance to contribute as little as 50 per cent of the purchase price for the home they want.

The move came after criticisms that the contribution threshold was too high and would exclude those on lower incomes.

The HomeBuy scheme primarily targets would-be buyers in the London, south-east and East Anglia regions, where housing prices are highest.

It is administered by housing associations.

In the latest development, Tower Homes announced the first mortgage agreement under the scheme in London for a nurse in Tower Hamlets.

But critics are cautious about labelling the scheme a success until the government has secured better buy-in from banks and building societies.

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