Minister's new priorities: housing, housing, housing

schemes aimed at helping teachers and other public-sector workers on to the property ladder could receive up to pound;1 billion in next week's Treasury spending review.

Chancellor Gordon Brown is expected to pump millions into building low-cost housing across the country and announce a relaxation of planning laws to allow development on brownfield sites.

Soaring house prices, particularly in London and the South-east, have made home ownership a virtual impossibility for many teachers and forced them out of the very areas where they are most needed.

There are currently more than 1,000 unfilled teaching posts in the capital and the National Housing Federation estimates that there is a shortage of 100,000 affordable homes for public-sector workers in London and the South-east.

Education minister Stephen Twigg has adopted the slogan "housing, housing, housing", as the key to solving the capital's staffing problem, while Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott hinted last week that a major change in housing policy was imminent.

The Housing Corporation, which funds and regulates the housing association sector, is likely to be the main beneficiary of extra cash, with insiders predicting a doubling of its existing pound;1bn budget.

As well as building thousands of new homes, the cash would help more teachers take advantage of the Starter Homes Initiative. This scheme, launched last year, allows key workers to apply for a pound;10,000 interest-free loan from the Government to bridge the gap between house prices and what banks will lend them .

"Shared ownership" schemes, that allow teachers to part-buy a property with a housing association and increase their share of ownership, are also expected to receive extra support.

For more information on subsidised housing schemes, visit

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