A FAMILY is celebrating after a government loan enabled them to stop renting and take the big step of buying and owning a home.

As a teacher at the Sixth Form College, Farnborough, Martin O’Neil was able to apply to the Key Homes Scheme, which provides financial assistance for police officers, teachers, nurses and health workers.

The scheme is run by Thames Valley Housing Association and is designed to help public sector workers living in areas hit by the soaring property market. The association was allocated £1.5million from the government for Rushmoor and Hart.

“We love the house we are living in and we are both very happy and the children are very excited. We wholeheartedly support the scheme and think it’s an excellent way to help key workers stay in their employment in areas of demand,” said Mr O’Neil, who lives with his partner and their three children.

He said they had nearly given up hope of buying their own place and never believed they would have been the owners of a three-bedroom house.

“If it hadn’t been for this, we would not have been able to buy a house and we would have had to move out of the area. Both of us are from the area, so it wasn’t what we wanted. The Sixth Form College is excellent and I have a great job.”

Under the scheme, workers receive a loan of between £20,000 and £30,000, which they pay back on selling the property or buy a share of the house and pay the rent on the remainder.

So far 13 workers in Rushmoor and Hart have benefited from the project.

To be eligible for the Starter Home Initiative you have to work in Rushmoor or Hart, have a permanent job and UK residency. Teachers, NHS workers or police officers should ring 020 8607 0628 or e-mail keyhomes@tvha.co.uk.