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Help to Buy supports 6,000 applicants

The government's Help to Buy scheme has encouraged 6,000 people to put in offers on a new home, the prime minister announced today (January 2nd).It represents a threefold increase on the 2,000 people who put in offers during November, the first month of the initiative.Once approved, the mortgages would represent £1 billion of lending to aspiring homeowners struggling to get a foot on the property ladder. The government says the Help to Buy scheme is part of a long-term plan to make Britain's economy stronger and more competitive. Nearly 750 homeowners have completed their purchases and were able to spend Christmas in their new homes in the 12 weeks since the start of the initiative.January will see Barclays and Santander enter the mortgage market with their own Help to Buy products, widening the range of options for prospective buyers. It will increase to two thirds the amount of the mortgage market offering products under the scheme.An additional 20,000 households have been supported by the Help to Buy Equity Loan Scheme. This is a separate initiative in which the government supports the purchase of a newly built home by providing an interest-free loan.Over 80 per cent of Help to Buy applicants are first time buyers. Three quarters of applicants are outside London and the south-east.The prime minister said the government introduced the Help to Buy initiative "so hardworking people with sufficient earnings can get on, fulfil their aspirations and enjoy the security of owning their own home"."In less than 3 months, the scheme has already helped thousands of people," he added. "I want to see that continue in 2014 and for Help to Buy to help thousands more realise their dream of home ownership."The Help to Buy scheme has proved to be controversial among economists. Tony Dolphin, senior economist and associate director for economic policy at the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank, recently claimed the initiative is creating a debt-financed housing bubble. 

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