Thousands of troops and their families have bought their own home as a result of the successful home-buying scheme Forces Help to Buy, which was launched in April 2014.
The MOD has loaned £75.7m to around 5,000 applicants within the last 18 months. And a further 1,900 personnel have had their applications approved and are awaiting completion of property purchases.
Forces Help to Buy allows military personnel to borrow a deposit of up to half of their annual salary towards buying a home and has proved most popular with those between the ages of 20 and 39. More than three quarters of recipients so far are non-officers. The £200m scheme is now half-way through its three-year trial.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
We are making sure that the unsung heroes, our service families, can enjoy the stability and security of owning their home. As of today, our Forces’ Help to Buy scheme has enabled five thousand people to buy their home: I want to double that to ten thousand ‘homes for heroes’ in the next 12 months.
The scheme was designed to provide more support to personnel than its predecessor, the Long Service Advance of Pay, as it offers larger loans and is easier to apply for, particularly for those overseas.
Lance Bombardier Joel Daye, who joined the Army in 2008, borrowed £10,000 through Forces Help To Buy. In April he and his wife Simona moved into their first home – a three-bed, detached house - in Hampshire.
Having been married for six years, their new home has given them a permanent base and somewhere to raise their young daughters – Arielle, three, and five-month-old Gabriella.
L/Bdr Daye, 34, of 12th Regiment Royal Artillery based in Emsworth, said:
Owning our own home means a lot to us. Our way of life has improved as the area we moved into is so lovely. Arielle spends most of her time playing in the garden and there is no traffic down our road, making it nice and quiet.
We wanted to purchase our own home as we saw the rent of Service Families Accommodation, as little as it was, as wasted money and thought it could be put to better use paying a mortgage. We used the loan to pay for the Stamp Duty and all fees, which freed up funds to put towards making it the house of our dreams.
Regular personnel can borrow up to 50% of their salary (capped at £25,000), interest free, to buy their first home, extend their current one or move to another property on assignment or as their needs change. The loan can be used towards a deposit and other costs such as solicitor’s and estate agent’s fees.
Forces Help to Buy is part of the New Employment Model (NEM), which is a long-term programme that aims to modernise the terms and conditions of service ‘offer’ for personnel so it better reflects the needs and aspirations of service personnel, and their families, in the 21st century.