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Appeal for answers over first-time buyer scheme
THE managing director of Worcester City Council is writing to the Government amid fears that the end of a popular first-time housebuyer scheme will result in young people missing out.
Duncan Sharkey is asking for “urgent clarification” over when the national Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme will launch – after the council admitted that it was scrapping a £1 million in-house project of its own.
Last April the authority teamed up with LloydsTSB to launch Lend a Hand, offering first-time buyers the chance to get on the housing ladder with just a five per cent deposit.
It has proved so popular that the pot has almost run dry, with 30 households securing offers from it and only £145,972 left in the kitty last month.
LloydsTSB has told the council not to put any more cash into a relaunch ahead of the Government’s Help to Buy project, which is expected to come into operation early next year.
It means scores of hopeful first-time buyers in Worcester could miss out in the ‘gap’ period between the new initiative launching, and the current council one running empty.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, speaking at a scrutiny committee meeting, said: “It’s been a hugely successful scheme and demonstrates that in Worcester there was a real need for this. “Mortgages have flown off the shelves. “It has been a great success for those who can afford a mortgage, but haven’t got the normal savings required for a deposit.
“My worry is that there’ll be a period where our money runs out and people can’t get the help they need, which is sad, because that’s the message this is sending out.”
The previous Conservative leadership wanted to put another £1 million into a second year of Lend a Hand, but lost power in May and the current Labour administration is taking LloydTSB’s advice.
Coun Roger Berry, cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: “The scheme has been a great success and the council led the way with it, but the Government is picking it up.”
Mr Sharkey said: “I don’t think we have any options right now, we’ve got to wait and see what happens.”
The committee agreed that he will write to the Government to “clarify at the earliest opportunity” when the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee will be available.
Some reports suggest it could be January.
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