Social workers will be eligible for low cost home ownership
under the government’s new starter homes initiative, health
minister John Hutton has revealed, writes Ruth

Initial target groups were nurses, police and teachers. But the
department of health has confirmed that social workers will soon
also be eligible for help.

In a letter to Association of Directors of Social Services
president Moira Gibb, Hutton said that bids for funding would be
considered from areas where recruitment of social workers was a
problem. Evidence of high housing demand and prices would also be

The starter home initiative will invest £250 million
between 2001 and 2004, and around 10,000 key workers are expected
to benefit. Local authorities will play a key role in bidding for
the cash, and successful authorities will be able to use the funds
according to local priorities.

Hutton said: “It is for the bidders to agree which are the key
workers whose services are essential for the community and who
should be targeted for assistance. The SHI scheme will give
priority to teachers, nurses and the police, but bids may be
submitted for other key professional groups, such as social
workers, if the bidder considers that there are severe difficulties
in recruitment and retention amongst these groups.”

Assistance for social workers might take the form of an interest
free loan to help with buying a home or a cash grant. Shared
ownership, where 25 or 50 per cent of the home is bought with a
mortgage while the remainder is rented, may also be an option. Some
forms of assistance will have to be repaid when a home is sold, but
help will only be available to first time buyers.









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