Starter home bidding begins

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

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, fire fighters and prison
service workers will have to fight for just 80 places in the
£20m scheme, which is run jointly by the Housing Corporation
and the Department for Transport, Local Government and the

Announcing the publication of bidding guidance
for the initiative, housing minister Lord Falconer said that high
house prices in parts of the country were adding to recruitment and
retention difficulties and that it was now “essential” to tackle
the issue.

Local authorities, social landlords and
employers are invited to bid for the loans, in areas such as
Windsor and Maidenhead, Cambridge, Maidstone, Oxford and

Vice chairperson of the Association of
Directors of Social Services human resources and training committee
Hilary Simon 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

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

She added that there is nothing to stop
directors having negotiations with housing providers to ensure
social workers have the same priority “whether it is via Starter
Homes Initiative, which is shared equity, or whether it is other
versions of key worker housing”.

Allocations to successful bidders will be
announced in May.

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