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College staff to receive London loans

For the first time further education lecturers will be included in the Government's key worker initiative, which will help them to buy homes in London and the South-east.

Alongside schoolteachers, they will be eligible to receive an interest-free loan of at least 25 per cent of the value of a property up to pound;50,000. There will also be a cut-price rent scheme. Lecturers will be able to access "intermediate renting" from registered landlords at a rate lower than on the open market.

But it is unlikely that lecturers will be entitled to another home loan scheme which will be offered to their school colleagues.

These are equity loans between pound;50,000 and pound;100,000 to teachers on the point of moving into leadership positions in London schools.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said there would be different criteria for FE lecturers, and she did not think they would be entitled to the latter scheme.

College lecturers have up to now been excluded from government help with housing, despite strong lobbying by the Association of Colleges.

Ivor Jones, the AOC's director of employment, said: "Lecturer vacancies in colleges, which educate 50 per cent more 16 to 19-year-olds than schools, are running at twice the rate of schools. Staff turnover is also much higher: for example, management vacancies last year were up 44 per cent on 2002.

"In addition, government policy is now strongly in favour of offering 14-year-olds in schools vocational options in colleges.

"Retaining the ban on lecturer eligibility was unsustainable. AoC has been actively campaigning for it to be lifted and we are delighted that it is now gone."

Ministers are due to sit down with the AoC and other partners to thrash out the details. "We need to work closely together to ensure we satisfy the rules of the initiative to maximise potential," said Alan Johnson, further and higher education minister.

Other areas outside the capital with high house prices may be included in the package.

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