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Housing: Public Service

Volume 461: debated on Monday 4 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the availability of housing for (a) nurses, (b) teachers, (c) police officers, (d) firefighters and (e) paramedics. (134193)

We do not hold data on the availability of housing for these key worker groups. Any such assessment would be for key worker employers to carry out. However, we do know that the housing market has not responded sufficiently to meet the needs of the country's ageing and growing population and one of the consequences of this has been recruitment and retention problems in front-line public services.

We have made it clear that our ambition is to increase the supply of new homes in England to at least 200,000 per annum by 2016; but, in the meantime, we are doing all we can to help people on modest incomes into housing. Since 2001 key workers have been one of our priority groups for housing assistance and we have now helped nearly 25,000 key workers into a home through our key worker housing programmes, the Starter Home Initiative and Key Worker Living.

For the purposes of Key Worker Living, a key worker is defined as someone employed by the public sector in a front-line role in health, education or community safety delivering an essential public service where there are serious recruitment and retention problems. Within this broad definition sponsor Government Departments and police and fire authorities specify the groups at which help should be targeted based on recruitment and retention issues in critical front-line services. Nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics are all eligible roles under the scheme which operates in London, south-east and east of England. So far we have helped 3,143 nurses, 5,129 teachers, 1,677 police officers, 109 firefighters and 209 paramedics under the Key Worker Living scheme. We are unable to provide this detailed breakdown of the key workers helped through the Starter Home Initiative but know that at least 3,895 health sector workers, 3,196 teachers and 1,321 police staff received assistance.

Key Worker Living is one element of the Government’s HomeBuy scheme which will expand the opportunity for home ownership to over a 120,000 households by 2010. We expect 30,000 of those helped through HomeBuy to be key workers.