More help for first-time buyers from Bristol City Council scheme
A CITY council scheme which helps first-time buyers to obtain mortgages is set to be extended so more people in Bristol can get on the property ladder.
Mayor George Ferguson agreed at a cabinet meeting yesterday that £3 million should be made available to support the project.
Since the scheme was launched a year ago with Lloyds TSB, 38 first-time buyers have been able to purchase a home in the city. The council's initial £1 million for the scheme has now been fully allocated to help people applying for mortgages. Another £1 million was deposited with Leeds Building Society in October but the council does not have figures for the number of mortgage completions.
The council earns interest on the money it deposits with mortgage lenders to act as security against loans for first-time buyers.
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It hopes that extending the scheme will lead to a "more balanced local housing market".
Cabinet member for homes, planning and regeneration, Guy Poultney, said: "This is a very innovative and imaginative scheme that helps Bristolians buy their first homes.
"They can afford the mortgage repayments but not the deposit, we pay this as a way, not only of reducing costs to the council of social housing, but also to generate income for money we won't use for anything else. I think this is a fantastic scheme and hope it will bring down the social housing waiting list.
Mr Ferguson said: "I would say this is an excellent scheme. It could be a lot bigger and could be making a contribution across the city.
"The scheme is enabling first-time buyers to get on to the housing ladder in a way they might not otherwise have been able to do."
Mr Ferguson said that he is keen to increase the number of homes available in the city, and that might enable the council to "ramp up schemes like this".
The resources scrutiny commission welcomed the move at its January meeting, saying: "The scheme should be extended wherever it was practical to do so."
Despite the cabinet's support for the scheme, Labour councillors believe it is too expensive and provides minimal impact, preferring the option of a city bond for savers.