Brown helps first-time buyers

The Chancellor has announced Government plans to help buyers get a foot on the property ladder.

Under the five-year part-ownership plan, buyers will be expected to raise as little as half the cost of homes sold on the open market, with the remaining equity shared by the Government and the bank or building society.

Thousands of first-time buyers will benefit from the plans to offer young people financial help in buying their first home.

The deal between the Government and mortgage lenders could cut the average repayments on a £200,000 home by up to £372 a month and it will not be restricted to the key public sector workers, Mr Brown said.

The offer will not be subject to a means test, though banks and building societies will select deserving applicants whose salaries do not stretch to the average-priced house in their area. Those seeking to purchase their dream home via the scheme will be weeded out.

The Chancellor said: "It means that people who couldn't afford the full price of a home can afford the partial price, and they can gradually ramp up their stake.

"It's putting home ownership within the reach of thousands of people who would not be able to do so.

"This is part of our idea of helping people meet their aspirations for themselves: I have no doubt that more people want to be able to get a foot on the housing ladder earlier, and there are a lot of people who feel this is beyond their grasp."

Mr Brown suggested that the initiative could help the UK achieve a higher rate of home ownership than the US or Germany and the Treasury said a pilot scheme was already been in place for existing properties.

Peter Williams, of the Council for Mortgage Lenders, commented: "There's no doubt there's an aspiration for more people to be homeowners, and there is an issue that people can't get into the market at the moment."

Current figures have suggested that the UK housing market is starting to gradually slowdown after the unprecedented boom of recent years.