There are millions of NHS employees throughout the UK, and while the NHS Key Worker Mortgage Scheme was discontinued in 2019, there are several options for healthcare staff looking for a mortgage.
Some lenders offer favourable mortgage rates or are more likely to provide approval if you have a secure job within the NHS.
In this guide, we explain how NHS mortgages work, the potential options to help if you are a first-time buyer, and what a mortgage lender will consider when reviewing your application.
NHS Mortgages Explained
The term ‘NHS mortgage’ refers to the previous scheme whereby NHS employees could apply for a specific mortgage product – this initiative has now closed.
Therefore, when discussing NHS mortgages, we are talking about mortgage products available to healthcare professionals (including administrative and support staff), not a standalone mortgage you can only get through one lender.
However, you may find that some mortgage lenders are better positioned to support NHS applicants, even if you are new to your role or working part-time.
Eligibility for an NHS Mortgage
Mortgage terms for NHS staff are usually available to clinical employees with a long-term or permanent contract, although that is not always the case.
If you work at any of the below facilities, you will typically be considered an NHS mortgage applicant:
- Doctor’s surgery or NHS dental practice.
- Ambulance service or NHS Direct.
- A Primary Care Trust or the Health Protection Agency.
- Blood transfusion services.
- Mental Healthcare and Social Care Trust.
That is not an exhaustive list; provided your employer is either part of the NHS or provides NHS services, you may qualify for NHS mortgage rates.
It is also worth reiterating that not all NHS staff are nurses, doctors, dentists or surgeons.
Hospitals, clinics and outreach services employ countless cleaners, cooks, groundskeepers, administration staff, accounts teams and other support staff, all of whom are NHS colleagues.
Picking the Right NHS Mortgage Provider
As we have explained, there is not an NHS mortgage product per se.
Think Plutus is an independent, private broker, and our approach would be to review the available mortgages on the market, and the lender terms, to recommend products that are best suited to your needs.
A broker is doubtless the best option since those lenders with favourable terms for NHS applicants may not publicise this or offer an NHS mortgage as a named product.
Selecting the most suitable lender can make a considerable difference.
NHS Mortgage Restrictions and Limitations
The mortgage market is vast, and there are numerous potential mortgage products that are appropriate for NHS staff.
A lender will assess each application, depending on their policies and limits, according to factors such as:
- Credit score
- Employment type
- Existing debt
The discontinued NHS scheme offered discounts for NHS staff but excluded medical professionals (such as dentists or doctors). These exclusions do not now apply.
Key Worker and NHS Mortgage Schemes
The government categorises any NHS clinical employee, and most ancillary staff, as key workers, which in itself can mean you receive competitive mortgage offers.
Like the NHS mortgage scheme, the old key worker scheme has closed, but you may qualify for housing scheme mortgages, which provide accessible, affordable rates for essential employees.
In most cases, the deposit requirement is lower, and the interest charges are discounted against the standard mortgage rates.
Potential alternatives to NHS or key worker mortgages include:
- Help to Buy: a programme for first-time buyers which provides an equity loan of up to 20% of your property purchase price. The loan is interest-free for the first five years and available on new build property purchases.
- Shared Ownership: this scheme allows buyers to purchase a proportion of the property equity from a housing association or local authority if their household income is £80,000 or less (or under £90,000 in London).
- Mortgage Guarantees: provided you have a 5% deposit, the government-backed guarantee will secure 95% of your mortgage to improve your mortgage approval prospects and reduce your deposit requirement.
Please get in touch with Think Plutus if you would like to discuss any of these support schemes, or explore other opportunities to apply for financial assistance.
Mortgage Discounts for NHS Workers
UK mortgage lenders are always keen to secure new customers and have various initiatives and products designed for low-income applicants, first-time buyers or public sector employees.
Although there is not a specific product intended for NHS staff, you may find that you receive a discounted interest rate or another incentive to encourage you to apply to that lender.
Affordable housing scheme mortgages are also beneficial in many cases.
They can provide you with the opportunity to mortgage a property with a smaller deposit or sometimes with lower mortgage fees.
Borrowing Limits on Mortgages for NHS Workers
The application process for an NHS mortgage works like any other.
You will need to demonstrate how much you earn through an affordability assessment, which looks at:
- What you make per month or year.
- Your current outgoings and other debts.
- The stability of your employment.
- How much the property you wish to buy is worth.
- The deposit you have available.
During the application, you may be asked to provide information about your age, expenses and NHS pay band, along with copies of bank statements, payslips or your employment contract.
Lenders use this assessment to ensure you can afford the repayments on the mortgage you are applying for and to check whether you would still be able to keep up with the repayments were the applicable interest rate to rise.
Professional NHS Mortgage Advice
If you would like impartial advice about the best lender to apply to as an NHS worker, or want to ensure you apply for the most competitive mortgage product, please contact Think Plutus via email or phone.
Think Plutus recognises the huge importance of our public health service and takes great pride in helping NHS professionals find the most suitable mortgage terms to enable them to proceed with their property purchases.
Our experienced, independent mortgage advisers will be happy to answer your questions and learn more about your circumstances to enable us to conduct a whole-of-market search to narrow down our recommendations.