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The key to success is John Prescott

“Key workers, including health workers and teachers are critical to thriving, sustainable communities.” So said deputy prime minister John Prescott last month as he announced a £5bn spending spree to drive forward affordable housing plans to enable those same key workers to own decent homes over the next two years.

Key workers are crucial to society but high house prices often drive them away from the neighbourhoods where they work, undermining our frontline public services.

The government&#39s key worker initiative will ensure support is better targeted and tailored to meet the needs of public services. Most assistance will continue to be directed towards priority categories such as health workers and teachers. However, it is also proposed the programme should be widened to include other public sector workers to tackle recruitment and retention problems.

The programme will offer four options to help key workers into home-ownership, upgrade to family homes or rent at affordable levels. There will also be more emphasis on larger homes, reflecting the problems faced by many key workers when they seek to upgrade to a family home.

All well and good but the government&#39s key worker definition means many other key workers will be excluded from the scheme. How can certain categories of workers be classified as key, when others, for example the transport workers that get them to work, are not.

So is there more the mortgage industry could be doing? Lenders have increasingly been doing their bit to help key workers and first-time buyers get on the housing ladder, with innovative products from Birmingham Midshires, Kent Reliance, The MarketPlace at Bradford & Bingley and Bank of Ireland.

But can the industry succeed where the government is struggling? As we explore in our cover feature starting on page 36, there is only so much the mortgage industry can do to help key workers get on the housing ladder. The rest depends on Prescott.


Mortgage Advice Bureau signs up estate agent network

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UCB Home Loans to launch buy-to-let remortgage service

UCB Home Loans is to launch a buy-to-let remortgage service of up to 80% LTV on November 3. The package offers the same interest rates and flexible features as the standard buy-to-let mortgage range, which includes a three-year tracker at 4.54%, a two-year fixed rate at 5.19% and a three-year fixed rate at 5.59%. The […]

Amber targets light adverse customers

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Charity event raises record £65,000

A record-breaking £65,000 has been raised for Cancer Research UK following the 2003 Broomstick Ball. Arranged by Deirdre McManus, London manager of secured lending at Bristol & West, some 390 industry professionals gathered at the London Marriott Hotel last Wednesday for a glitzy auction evening. Channel 5 TV presenter Jonny Gould acted as master of […]

UK policy: Kate Moss and short-termism

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” said supermodel Kate Moss, who is not often credited for her insights into policy making. Perhaps she should be. In politics, as in matters of diet, the course of action that is the best over the long term is often not the most desirable course of action in the short term. Add the instant gratification of the democratic electoral cycle and, instead of good policy making, you sometimes get the equivalent to a midnight binge in front of the fridge.

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