In Brief

Help to Buy scheme used by thousands of high earners

People on salaries in excess of £100,000 granted loans under scheme meant to support struggling buyers

houses

A government scheme to support struggling first-time buyers get their own home is being used by thousands of existing homeowners and higher earners.

According to official figures, around 4,000 Help-to-Buy loans issued last year were handed to those earning more than £100,000 a year.

In addition, "more than 20,000 households - nearly a fifth - were not first-time buyers, compared to 90,000 who were", says Sky News.

The BBC also reports that more than half of those using the scheme could have afforded to buy without its help.Shadow housing minister John Healey said it showed the scheme was poorly targeted and should be directed towards those who needed it most.

He said: "I don't think it's right that taxpayers' help is going to people who are earning over £100,000, many of whom say they could have afforded to buy that without that help.

"A lot of this help is not even going to people who are buying for the first time so ministers have got to do a great deal more to target this scheme on help for those with ordinary incomes, younger people who really need the help most."

However, the government insisted it was "committed to helping more people find a home of their own".Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell added: "Our Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme continues to make home ownership a reality for thousands of people, especially first-time buyers right across the country."

Help to Buy was introduced by former chancellor George Osborne in 2013 to help struggling buyers.

Under its terms, both homeowners and those hoping to get on the property ladder can apply for help to buy a home worth up to £600,000.

Buyers must put up a deposit of five per cent to be eligible for a government loan of up to 20 per cent of the property's value. The loan is offered at a more affordable interest rate and that is free of fees for five years.

Consequently, buyers need only take out a mortgage worth 75 per cent of the purchase value, which will be cheaper to repay.

England has had this part of the scheme extended to 2021. A guarantee of low-deposit mortgages for first-time buyers has now expired.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Since 2010, government-backed schemes have helped more than 362,000 households to buy a home, with the number of first-time buyers more than doubling since 2009."

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