A Key Worker Mortgage is designed to make otherwise prohibitively expensive homes affordable to those key workers on relatively low incomes.

The British government launched its ‘Key Worker Living Programme’ in 2004, with the aim of recruiting and retaining key public sector workers in areas of England where housing costs are high. The provision of Key Worker Mortgages is a major part of this programme.

The scheme is targeted at key public service workers in a number of essential sectors including education, health and the emergency services.

Types of Key Worker Mortgage

Three categories of Key Worker Mortgage are currently available:

Who is Eligible for a Key Worker Mortgage

The applicant must be working in London, East Anglia or South East England, in order to be eligible for a Key Worker Mortgage. In addition, the applicant must be employed in one of the following types of jobs:

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Key Worker Mortgage: Costs & Availability

Key Worker Mortgages for up to 25 percent of a property’s purchase price may be available for key workers, in designated areas. As with other types of mortgage, the amount available to borrow will depend on your ability to repay the loan. Therefore, your level of income and financial outgoings will influence how much the lender is prepared to loan to you as a Key Worker Mortgage.

Charges and Arranging a Key Worker Mortgage

In order to obtain a Key Worker Homebuy Mortgage, the normal method is first to find a property and then to arrange a conventional mortgage from a financial institution of your choice, for 75 percent of the cost. Once this finance has been agreed, you are then in a position to apply for a Homebuy mortgage to cover the remaining 25 percent of the price of the property.

Mortgage Calculation: Example

For a £180,000 property, you would obtain a conventional mortgage for £135,000 and a Homebuy mortgage (usually interest free) for £45,000. If you subsequently sell the property for £200,000, you would then be required to repay 25 percent of the value of the property at the time of sale (i.e. £50,000) to pay off the Homebuy mortgage. In this way, you would have gained at least £15,000 (i.e. £200,000 less £50,000, less £135,000) in equity to put towards the purchase of your next home.

Shared Ownership Loans

Key Worker shared ownership loans operate in a broadly similar manner, but instead of buying a property outright, you would buy part of property (minimum 25 percent, maximum 75 percent), usually from a housing association and then rent the rest of the property.

For example, if you bought 50 percent of a £100,000 property for £50,000 and later the property was sold for £120,000, you would have to pay back 50 percent of the value (£60,000) to pay off the loan, leaving you with £10,000 (i.e. £120,000 less £60,000, less £50,000) in equity.

Typical Key Worker Mortgage Lenders

The number of available Key Worker Mortgages is limited. To find out what is available, you first need to contact the zone agent (a designated local housing association) for the area in which you work, in order to ascertain whether the type of job that you do qualifies you for a Key Worker mortgage in that area and to establish whether funds are available.

The Key Worker mortgage zones are administered geographically as follows:

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Key Worker Mortgage Considerations

If you are employed in southern or eastern England, in one of the qualifying job categories, a Key Worker Mortgage might be your only realistic chance of getting a foot on the property ladder.

When to Consider a Key Worker Mortgage

If taking on a Key Worker Mortgage could mean making the difference between buying a first property or not, you would be sensible to give the matter serious consideration. Financing a new house or flat in this way might be just what you need to get started, if your job makes you eligible to take part.

Mortgage Exclusion

A Key Worker Mortgage can only be used when buying a main residence; it cannot be used for the purchase of a ‘buy to let’ property.


Before deciding upon taking up a Key Worker Mortgage, you should be aware that if you change your employment you might cease to be considered a Key Worker. If this happens you will be required to repay the loan. However, in cases of redundancy or loss of employment due to ill health, the loan does not have to be repaid until the property is sold. If you are settled in your job and eligible for a Key Worker Mortgage, buying a home partly funded by this method is likely to be beneficial, especially if property prices continue to rise steadily.

Key Worker Mortgages & Mortgage Products

Even if you are successful in obtaining a Key Worker Mortgage, some financial institutions are reluctant to offer their mortgage products in combination with a Key Worker Mortgage.

Key Worker Mortgage Providers

Mortgage providers that will consider applications in conjunction with a Key Worker Mortgage include Abbey, Cheltenham & Gloucester, Halifax, Royal Bank of Scotland, Leeds & Holbeck, Nationwide and Yorkshire.

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Key Worker Mortgage Guide

The aim of the Key Worker Mortgage programme is to help to recruit and retain key public sector workers in those parts of London, South East England and East Anglia where the high cost of housing would otherwise deter employment.

Types of Key Worker Mortgages

Main types of Key Worker Mortgage available:

Key Worker Entitlement

Public service employees in the following employment categories are permitted to apply for a Key Worker Mortgage:

Key Worker Mortgage Zones

A housing association manages the allocation of Key Worker Mortgages in each of the following areas:


Not all categories of public sector employee will be entitled to Key Worker Mortgages, in all localities.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

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