New employee benefit scheme helps colleagues onto the property ladder

A new type of employee benefit scheme which has transformed the lives of colleagues at a leading housing provider is celebrating its first anniversary.

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Stonewater launched the myOwnHome initiative last year to help its colleagues who were struggling to get on the property ladder to achieve their dream of home ownership.

Ten colleagues having difficulty affording a place of their own are now homeowners and another 14 are in the process of buying homes, thanks to the pilot scheme.

Stonewater introduced myOwnHome as part of its overarching mission to give everyone the opportunity to have a place they can call home.

It offers eligible colleagues the opportunity to choose a property available on the open market, either a new-build or re-sale, which Stonewater buys on their behalf. They can then buy a share (between 25 and 75 per cent) of their home, depending on what they can afford, and pay discounted rent on the rest.

A year after its launch, the scheme has been shortlisted in the best benefits communication category at this year’s Employee Benefit Awards and offered a welcome lifeline to colleagues facing various barriers to fulfilling their hopes of owning their own home.

myOwnHome aims to support colleagues overcome financial constraints preventing many of them from achieving home ownership in high-value areas like Reading and Bristol.

Given current expensive land prices, Stonewater is not looking to build new homes in those locations, meaning colleagues in these areas are not able to take advantage of the company’s standard shared ownership schemes.

Nick Harris, Chief Executive at Stonewater, said: “A year on from launching the scheme, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to achieve and how its benefited many of our hardworking colleagues.

“Given the challenges we currently face, we believe more people are going to be looking to shared ownership as an affordable way of getting onto the property ladder, so I’m pleased that we have also made this a viable option for our colleagues too – ensuring they have the opportunity to own a home that truly suits their needs.”

Shared ownership is usually funded by a government grant at a 12.5 per cent cost. But Stonewater is subsidising myOwnHome, with any surplus made being invested into building more much-needed affordable housing.

In its first year the scheme has been limited to Board funding of £5 million, which will be assessed in subsequent years.

For more information about Stonewater’s other affordable initiatives, visit www.stonewater.org