Blow for social workers in starter home scheme

Few social workers are likely to benefit from the
government’s starter home initiative aimed at giving public
sector workers a step up onto the first rung of the property
ladder, writes Elizabeth Davidson.

Under the £250 million scheme to tackle the shortage of
public employees in areas of high property costs certain categories
of public sector workers will be entitled to apply for interest
free loans.

But a spokesperson for the department for transport, local
government and the regions admitted that, although social workers
would be eligible, “the main focus in this round will be the
police, nurses and health workers and teachers”.

Loans will be made to 3,992 nurses and health workers, 2,817
teachers, and 892 police officers. The majority of these loans will
be granted to London-based workers.

Social workers will be left to compete with firefighters and
transport workers for the remaining 311 loans – 189 in London
and 122 outside.

Ian Johnston, director of the British Association of Social
Workers, described the details of the scheme as a “kick in the

“We are outraged,” he said. “The government says it recognizes
the importance of what social workers do, but it needs to put its
money where its mouth is.

“There is a huge recruitment problem, and it’s a problem
that is increasing in magnitude. I think that certainly this issue
is so serious that people will be deprived of essential

The individual local authorities, registered social landlords
and constabularies who made successful bids for the scheme were due
to be announced later this week.

Workers hoping to benefit from the initiative should then apply
to their local starter home initiative manager and check the DTLR and Housing
websites. No closing date for applications has been set.



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