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Key Worker Living programme (closed)

This content applies to England

The Key Worker Living programme is no longer operational, however, key workers may be given priority on some shared or low-cost home ownership schemes, and are often prioritised for intermediate rent schemes with social landlords.

The Key Worker Living programme was a scheme to help key workers buy or rent a home. Key workers are people who work within the public sector in roles that are vital to the infrastructure of the community. They include teachers, police officers, armed forces personnel and National Health Service (NHS) workers.

Schemes available within the Key Worker Living programme

There have been a number of key worker schemes since the initiation of the Key Worker Living programme in 2006: Key Worker HomeBuy, London Challenge Key Teacher HomeBuy, Key Worker Shared Ownership and Key Worker Intermediate Rent.

Intermediate Rent

Intermediate Rent schemes may be suitable for key workers who are not in a position to buy a home, but who can benefit from a reduced rent to save for a deposit for buying a home in the future. Applicants rent a property from a registered social landlord and pay a rent set at a level between social housing rent and normal market rents. See the page Intermediate Market Rent for more information.

Tenants renting under an intermediate rent scheme will be assured shorthold tenants - see the section on Assured shorthold tenancies for more information.

Who is a key worker

Key workers are people who work within the public sector in roles that are vital to the infrastructure of the community. To be eligible to help from the Key Worker Living programme, a household must include at least one person who is a key worker.

Key workers who may be eligible for help are:

  • clinical staff employed by the NHS (excluding doctors and dentists)
  • teachers, including further education teachers and Early Years/nursery teachers
  • police officers and community support officers in specified forces
  • frontline police staff (civilians) may also be eligible in some areas
  • prison officers and some Prison Service staff in prisons in specified areas
  • probation officers (senior or not) and, for intermediate rent only, trainee probation officers
  • local authority (LA) or local education authority (LEA) or NHS social workers
  • LA therapists (including occupational therapists and speech and language therapists)
  • LA educational psychologists
  • LA/LEA/NHS nursery nurses
  • LA planners
  • LA clinical staff
  • uniformed staff, below principal level, in fire and rescue services
  • Connexions personal advisors
  • armed forces personnel and some civilian Ministry of Defence (MoD) personnel (ie clinical staff, MoD police officers and uniformed staff in the Fire and Defence Service), also including some discharged personnel
  • Highway Agency traffic officer staff
  • LA environmental health officers/practitioners.

More information about who qualifies as a key worker can be found in the HCA's Capital Funding Guide or is available from the local authority or the HomeBuy agent responsible for the relevant areas.

Security of tenure

The security of tenure of a key worker who has purchased/rented under the Key Worker Living programme will depend upon the scheme applied to:

  • people who bought a home through the Key Worker HomeBuy and London Challenge Key Teacher schemes are owner-occupiers. They own either the freehold or the leasehold of their home. See the Home ownership section for information on the rights and responsibilities of owner-occupiers
  • people who have bought through the Key Worker Shared Ownership scheme will usually be a combination of assured tenants and leasehold owner-occupiers. See the page on Conventional shared ownership for more information on security of tenure for shared owners
  • people renting through the Key Worker Intermediate Rent scheme will be assured shorthold tenants. See the section on Assured shorthold tenancies for more information.

The security of tenure for HomeBuy buyers depends on the scheme - see the pages in the section Shared and low-cost home ownership schemes for more information about the different HomeBuy schemes.

What happens if the beneficiary ceases to be a key worker

From 1 April 2008, key workers accessing shared ownership products are issued with the same leases as purchasers who are not key workers. This means that their rights over their home do not change if they cease their employment as key workers.

Prior to 1 April 2008, shared ownership leases contained a 'clawback' provision in respect of key workers. This meant that where a participant who was housed as a key worker changed employment, s/he was obliged to notify the landlord within seven days of that change. If s/he ceased to be a qualifying key worker, s/he was required within five years either to staircase to 100 per cent ownership or sell their shared ownership interest to a nominee of their landlord. These clauses were abolished in April 2008. Where the clause remains in place for existing leases, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) will not pursue 'clawback' in the event that a beneficiary leaves their place of employment.


The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

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