Social workers fight for loans under homes initiative

Two thousand key workers in areas with high housing costs
outside London are to benefit from £10,000 equity loans
towards their first home, writes Clare

One thousand health care workers, 700 teachers and 220 police
will be helped under the latest phase of the starter home
initiative. But social workers, firefighters and prison service
workers will have to fight for just 80 places in the £20
million scheme, which is run jointly by the Housing Corporation and
the department of transport, local government and the regions.

Announcing the publication of bidding guidance for the
initiative, housing minister Lord Falconer said: “High house prices
in some parts of the country have added to recruitment and
retention difficulties. Tackling this issue is essential in
ensuring public sector workers have the keys to the communities
they serve.”

Local authorities, social landlords and employers are invited to
bid for the loans, in areas such as Windsor and Maidenhead,
Cambridge, Maidstone, Oxford and Thurrock, where high house prices
are undermining recruitment and retention.

Hilary Simon, vice chairperson of the Association of Directors
of Social Services human resources and training committee, said:
“We welcome the starter home initiative because it recognises that
the recruitment of key professionals in the caring profession and
National Health Service is at crisis point.”

Simon, who is also director of social services and housing at
Windsor and Maidenhead Council, said it would be helpful if the
government regarded social workers on the same level as teachers
and police in key services.

But, there is nothing to stop directors having negotiations with
housing providers to ensure social workers have the same priority
to those schemes, “whether it’s starter homes, which is
shared equity, or whether it’s other versions of key worker
housing,” she added.

“Working with housing providers, you can achieve this,” she

Funding for the £20 million equity scheme will complete the
allocation of the starter home initiative budget of £250
million, which will help a total of 10,000 key workers.

Allocations to successful bidders will be announced in May.





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