Launch of £1m fund to help first-time buyers on to property ladder

Simon Taylor and Sophie Player look forward to buying their first home after signing up to the "Loca

Simon Taylor and Sophie Player look forward to buying their first home after signing up to the "Local Lend a Hand mortgage scheme a partnership between Norwich City Council with Lloyds Bank to help first-time buyers in Norwich. Deputy leader of Norwich City Council, Alan Waters and Lloyds Bank local mortgage manager, Andre Korolus were on hand to see the couple sign up.Photo by Simon Finlay. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

First-time buyers in Norwich have been given a helping hand on to the property ladder with the launch of a £1m fund.

Househunters Simon Taylor and Sophie Player were among the first to be approved for the scheme yesterday, which was unveiled by Norwich City Council and Lloyds Bank.

The couple said the scheme, which sees the council supplementing a buyer's deposit to earn interest, had moved them closer to buying their first home together.

Miss Player, 27, said: 'We have got a mortgage with a 5% deposit, but if we had had to find 10pc, then we would be waiting until the end of this year or even next year before being able to buy. By that time, house prices would probably have gone up again.'

Mr Taylor added: 'The difference between our current rent and our mortgage will only be about £13 or £14, so it was really just a question of getting the deposit together.

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The couple, who live in Bell Road, hope to complete their move to a similar home in Guernsey Road within eight weeks.

Miss Player, a nurse at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said they had looked at several help-to-buy schemes.

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'We thought this one was the best overall – it's made it a little more affordable and a lot quicker,' she said.

The Local Lend a Hand scheme sees Norwich City Council and Lloyds Bank team up to help up to 40 buyers secure their first mortgage. Buyers put down a 5% deposit, with the council providing cash backing for up to a further 20%, on homes in the Norwich City Council area costing up to £160,000.

It means buyers benefit from the interest rates that come with a 25% deposit, and the council earns interest on its £1m investment, which will be taken from its reserves.

Alan Waters, deputy leader of Norwich City Council, said the scheme was part of the council's housing strategy to 'provide decent housing for all'.

He said: 'Many potential first-time buyers in Norwich, including those in social housing are often unable to save a sufficient deposit, even though they could afford mortgage repayments on a typical first home.

'This initiative is designed to bridge that gap and is a wonderful opportunity for people seeking to buy their first home.'

Marc Page, mortgages director at Lloyds Bank, said: 'Helping people to buy their first home is crucial in achieving and maintaining a sustainable housing market. Local Lend a Hand addresses some of the real problems that prospective buyers in Norwich might face.'

To find out more about the scheme, visit Lloyds banks in Gentleman's Walk, Surrey Street or Aylsham Road.

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