City Council launches key worker housing strategy

Winchester City Council has launched its Key Worker Housing Strategy and, together with its Housing Association partners, has set up a register for people wanting low cost home ownership.

The key worker housing strategy focuses on the growing problems experienced throughout the south east in recruiting and retaining key staff. It concentrates on public and private sector employees who provide an essential public service in the Winchester district.

In 2004 a survey looking at recruitment and retention found that the council's local key worker groups should be

• Health workers
• Police civilians
• Public transport workers
• Local authority workers
• Serco employees
• Childminders
• Royal Mail workers
• Home carers
• Employees of non-profit making and charitable organisations, and
• Cleaners, caterers and security personnel in essential public services

Cllr Dominic Hiscock, the Council's Cabinet portfolio holder for housing, said: "In Winchester we recognise that we need to help people who provide essential public services to our community, but who fall outside the government's definition of key workers. Because of this we can now offer some middle-earning essential workers a chance to buy a low cost new home."

Under the low cost ownership scheme 29 households received the keys to their own home within the last 12 months, and it is expected that a further 82 low cost affordable homes will be available by summer next year.

Low cost ownership can take a variety of forms including shared ownership and shared equity. Shared ownership allows those eligible to buy a share of the property, perhaps 50% or 75%, and pay a subsidised rent on the remaining share.

Shared equity is similar to shared ownership in that you purchase a share, usually 75%, in a property. Rather than paying rent on the remainder, the Housing Association will provide an interest free loan. This means the Housing Association will have a legal charge on 25% of the value of the property and this will be recorded with the Land Registry.

Because of demand, households need to meet certain criteria to be accepted onto the register.

•Applicants must live or work in the Winchester district
•Must have a minimum £2,000 to cover costs of house purchase
• Minimum household income of £16,000
• Maximum household income of £45,000
• Applicants must not be existing home owners and must be seeking to buy a property as their private home
• Local connection required for rural areas
• No subletting on open market permitted

More information about Low Cost Home Ownership or Local Key worker Housing can be obtained from the City Council, Tel: 01962 848210 / 848218 or email

To find out whether you are eligible under the government's Key Worker Living Scheme please contact Swaythling Housing Society on 023 80 487 487 or email