Home ownership schemes available in the UK

Kellie Steed - Author Profile

Written by Kellie Steed, Expert Mortgages Content Writer

9 November 2023

There’s no question that buying a home in the UK is more challenging than it was for previous generations. We look at the range of home ownership schemes available in the UK, below.

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National home ownership schemes

Some schemes are offered nationwide, but since the devolution of the UK, each country also has its own schemes that only apply there. 

What is the Shared Ownership scheme? 

The shared ownership is available nationwide throughout the UK. It allows you to buy a percentage of a home (between 10 and 75% initially). The remainder of your home is retained by a housing association, and you pay rent to them on the share that you’re not buying. 

Most shared ownership properties allow you to increase ownership as and when you can afford to, until you own the property outright. However, not all housing associations allow this, and certain schemes, particularly those aimed at the over 55s, only allow you to own a maximum of 75%.

What is the Deposit Unlock scheme?

Available nationwide, but with regional variations, this is the first non-government funded home ownership scheme in the UK. Deposit unlock was developed in 2022 by the Home Builders Federation in 2022 in response to the phasing out of the help-to-buy scheme.

The scheme is open to both first-time buyers and home movers, but property availability varies by location. Applicants can buy a new build home with 5% deposit - rather than the standard 15% needed for new build properties. This can be particularly appealing to those struggling to save a deposit.

Mortgages for this scheme are only offered by lenders partnered with the scheme, and therefore can only be accessed via a mortgage broker. 

Home ownership schemes available in England

If you’re looking to buy a home in England, the following schemes may be suitable for you, depending on your circumstances:

What is the First Homes scheme?

This scheme provides new build properties in certain areas that are available at 30% to 50% below market value. Open to first-time buyers in England with a household income of £80,000 or less (£90,000 in London), the properties are intended to stay affordable, so can only be sold on to other scheme users. 

Anyone meeting the criteria can apply, but these are in fairly low supply, and allocation is likely to be prioritised for local key workers, those on a low-income and people with links to the area where the property is based.

What is the Rent to Buy scheme?

Housing associations offer this scheme, which goes by different names in different areas of England, for example, the London living rent scheme in the capital. The rules vary from one housing association to another, but generally, it allows people to rent a property at a reduced market rent while they save a deposit. 

Once they have lived in the property for a set length of time, which varies by scheme, the tenant then has first refusal to buy the property - and the money saved on rent should provide them with a large enough deposit.

What are the Right to buy/ Right to Acquire schemes? 

These schemes are very similar and are intended for council tenants (right to buy) and housing association tenants (right to acquire) in England. 

Right to buy

Allows some council tenants to buy their rented home from the council at a discounted rate. The discount could be as high at 70%, depending on the length of their tenancy and how much the property is worth. However, keep in mind that not all councils offer this option, so you may not be able to buy in your area. 

Right to acquire

Aimed at housing association tenants, this scheme also allows renters to buy their home after having lived in it for a minimum term. The discount is much smaller than for the right to buy scheme, however. Tenants may be entitled to between £9000-£16,000 off the value of their home, depending on the location, property value and length of tenancy.

While this is less appealing than right to buy, some lenders allow you to use this discount in lieu of a deposit when taking out a mortgage, which can make it much more achievable to get one.

Home ownership schemes available in Scotland

There are currently only two schemes exclusively available in Scotland, and both sit under the LIFT Scheme (Low Cost Initiative for First-time Buyers). This is broken down into two schemes, each with slightly different rules, but both available to first-time buyers and priority groups.

What is the New Supply Shared Equity (NSSE) scheme?

With this scheme, the Scottish government buys 20-40% of a new build property for you and you buy the rest using a mortgage. You won’t need to pay them back and own the home with an official deed, but when you sell the property on, the government takes 20-40% share of the sale price.

What is the Open Market Share Equity (OMSE) scheme?

This works very similarly to the above, but it can be used for properties that are available on the open market. The government provide between 10 and 60% of the cost of an open market home through a shared equity agreement and you pay them back when you sell the home on. 

Home ownership schemes available in Wales

The following schemes are open to those resident in Wales and looking to purchase a home there:

What is the Help-to-buy scheme? 

The Help to Buy Scheme (Wales) is an equity loan scheme for first-time buyers looking to purchase a new build property in Wales. It has previously been available in other parts of the UK but is now only open to those buying in Wales until 31 March 2025.

You can buy with a deposit of 5% and an equity loan from the government of up to 20%. This tops up your deposit, which lowers the LTV of your borrowing, making mortgage repayments more achievable and aiding your affordability for the purpose of the application. 

You’ll need to repay the loan within 25 years, but you have the option to repay it sooner if you wish. The equity loan is interest-free for the first 5 years, but from the 6th you pay 1.75% per month of the equity loan balance as interest. Interest charges rise each year by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), plus 2% - so you’re best to prioritise paying it back sooner if possible.

What is the Homebuy scheme?

The Homebuy scheme provides an equity loan of around 30% of a new build property’s value - meaning you only need to borrow 70% with a mortgage. The loan will need to be repaid, but not until you sell the home.

It’s intended for people who qualify for social housing, can’t afford to carry on living in their current home or are in a home that doesn’t meet their needs. It’s predominantly aimed at those living in more rural areas, where there are less homes available, so is not available throughout all of Wales. 

Home ownership schemes available in Northern Ireland

There are no stand alone home ownership schemes in Northern Ireland, however, residents have access to the UK’s national schemes, as well as England’s Right to buy scheme.

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