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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

Particular benefits: housing for key workers - overview: eligibility

Key worker scheme

Starter Homes Initiative

In September 2001 the Starter Homes Initiative (SHI) was introduced as the first dedicated home ownership programme for key workers - people working in the public services who, without assistance from SHI, would have been unable to afford home ownership in London and the south east of England and may have left the area where their skills are needed. SHI provided assistance to key workers to buy their first homes.

SHI ceased on 31 March 2004 and was replaced on 1 April 2004 by a new programme called “Key Worker Living”.

Key Worker Living

As with SHI, the Key Worker Living (KWL) programme is aimed at public service workers in London and the south east where the high cost of housing is causing recruitment and retention of staff problems. Unlike SHI, KWL is not limited to helping key workers to buy their first home and it extends to rental schemes as well as home ownership.

KWL extends housing assistance to different life stages - first time buyers, larger properties to meet household needs (e.g. family size homes) of existing home owners, shared ownership schemes and properties for rent at affordable prices.

Four products are available to key workers -

  • equity (“Homebuy”) loans of up to £50,000 to buy a home (EIM21736),
  • higher-value equity loans up to £100,000 for a small group of London school teachers with the potential to become leaders in their field (EIM21736),
  • shared-ownership of newly built properties (EIM11414) and
  • intermediate renting at subsidised levels.


Key workers who may qualify for assistance under KWL are -

  • nurses and other NHS staff,
  • teachers in schools and in further education or sixth from colleges,
  • police officers and some civilian staff in police forces,
  • prison service and probation service staff,
  • social workers, education psychologists, planners and occupational therapists employed by local authorities, and
  • whole time junior fire officers and retained fire fighters in some fire and rescue services.