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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 March, 2004, 11:44 GMT
Housing support for key workers
House prices have risen beyond the reach of public sector workers
A wider range of public sector workers is to be given help with the high cost of housing.

The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, announced a 690m scheme to support key workers who struggle to live in expensive areas such as London.

Housing subsidies will be available to staff in education, health, police, fire and prison services.

The scheme is an attempt to tackle a shortage of key staff in areas where they have been priced out of housing.

A report last month found that in parts of England, average house prices are now nine times the annual salary of some public sector workers.

'Front-line services'

The Key Worker Living programme, launched on Tuesday, will extend subsidies to a wider range of staff - such as allowing further education lecturers to receive the benefits available to school teachers.

It will also be available to employees such as social workers and educational psychologists.

It is available in areas where house prices have risen sharply in recent years - in London, east and south-east England.

Mr Prescott said it would help "front line" public services where "recruitment and retention is particularly difficult".

An earlier subsidy scheme, the Starter Home Initiative, has given support to 9,000 public sector workers.

The new scheme provides a number of different ways to make housing more affordable - which, it is intended, will stop these key workers migrating out of the high-cost areas.

There are subsidised loans, which for London teachers can be up to 100,000. And there are schemes for shared ownership of newly-built houses and subsidised rented accommodation.

Property ladder

The Education Secretary, Charles Clarke, said the scheme reflected the difficulties in keeping experienced staff in high-cost areas.

"We know that housing costs are a significant reason why school and further education teachers and children's social workers leave London and the South East.

"This threatens our commitment to raising educational standards and improving public services," he said.

The Health Secretary, John Reid, said that it would help health service workers to "get a foot on the property ladder".

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18 Jul 02  |  UK Politics
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17 Mar 04  |  Business

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