Mortgage Schemes for Key Workers

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Pete Mugleston

Author: Pete Mugleston - Mortgage Advisor, MD

Updated: December 4, 2023


The specific mortgage scheme for Key workers is no longer available. But, there are still plenty of mortgage scheme options to choose from, as outlined in this article.

While salaries might not always reflect the skill, dedication and value that key workers bring to our society, fortunately when it comes to home ownership, there is help out there from mortgage lenders, the government and local authorities to help staff buy their own homes.

They recognise that income might not always cover the cost of an expensive mortgage, or that stringent eligibility barriers might be too rigid for some key workers’ irregular working practices or career progression timelines. Here we look in greater detail at what’s involved

Are there specific mortgages for key workers?

This depends on what your job role is and which lenders are offering what at the time you’re applying. While there are some worthwhile schemes out there to take advantage of, which we detail below, some lenders will be willing to offer special dispensation to key workers applying for regular mortgages too, which could take the form of discounted rates, flexible eligibility criteria and extended borrowing caps.

There have been specific mortgage products out there in the past just for key workers, but in a fluctuating and unpredictable financial climate it’s not always possible to tell which deals have now expired.

This is why it’s always a good idea to get the support and expertise of a specialist mortgage broker, who will have insights into the market and lenders who are sympathetic to key worker applicants, and who may have current tailored products for them.

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Schemes they can apply for

There are a number of initiatives out there that might be well suited to your circumstances.

Here we will outline some standard ones out there, but it’s also worth asking your broker to check whether your region offers any bespoke schemes provided by your local authority, private developers or social landlords.

First Homes

This scheme replaced the Key Worker Programme, which ended in 2019. It is aimed at first-time buyers and key workers, with the intention of helping them onto the property ladder by giving a minimum of 30% discount on the normal market value of new-build homes.

The government said this is part of a ‘wider pledge’ to build more affordable homes and bring homeownership within reach to more people.

Read more about the First Homes Scheme here.

Shared Ownership

It’s not exclusive to key workers, but being one is on the list of criteria for eligibility for this government-approved scheme, which is run by housing associations.

Essentially this works if you can’t afford to pay a significant deposit or mortgage payments on a whole property. It allows you to part own and part rent a property, with a view to ‘staircasing’ – gradually paying more on your mortgage so you then own it outright.

Read more about Shared Ownership mortgages here.

Right to Buy

If you’re already living in a council-owned property, this scheme gives key workers the opportunity to buy it at a reduction in price. You will still have to qualify to take this up.

Read more about Right to Buy mortgages here.

Who qualifies for one?

Which job roles are entitled to different schemes and mortgage deals is not clear cut, as there will be different criteria for each lender and each system, however key workers are seen as being people who keep the important infrastructure of our society running, including:

Why use Online Mortgage Advisor if you’re a key worker?

At Online Mortgage Advisor we have access to the very best mortgage brokers who will have insider knowledge on the latest offerings from lenders and, crucially, which of those you might qualify for, especially if your role as a key worker is not definitive.

As well as the schemes out there, they will also be able to advise – and search for – regular mortgages that might be a fit for you too. For example, high loan-to-value products like a 95% or 100% mortgage, or who might be open to low income mortgages or guarantor mortgages.

If you get in touch we can arrange for a broker we work with, who has experience arranging mortgages for key workers, to contact you straight away.

Which mortgage lenders favour key workers?

This is another shifting reality in the current mortgage climate, with lenders taking various products on and off the table all the time. At the time of writing (June 2023), Kensington Mortgages still offer a range of different interest-rate deals under their ‘Hero Mortgages’ scheme – specifically aimed at key service workers such as army personnel, emergency services and teachers.

There were a number of lenders on board for particular schemes when they launched, such as Halifax and Nationwide for First Homes, but it’s always best to check with a mortgage broker as to the most up-to-date offerings.

Can you get a mortgage if you’re a social worker?

Yes, it’s possible. However, due to the nature of social work, individual employment contracts and incomes can be vastly different. It’s not unusual these days to see social workers’ contracts fall into the following categories:

Permanent staff

Typically, anyone on a full time permanent contract should have no problem finding finance so long as the salary is paid as any other normal job. If the applicant has been in the position less than 12 months then some lenders will not approve the mortgage, however there are lenders that may accept new job mortgages (even if they are in a probationary period), and one or two lenders that consider applicants yet to start their new job – so long as they have a written signed contract that is due to start within 3 months of the application.

Short-term contracts

Social workers on short term posts (anything less than 3 years) may find getting a mortgage approved difficult. Typically most short term contracts will be for 3, 6, or 12 months and as such the lenders can deem the income as unsustainable and not adequate to maintain ongoing mortgage payments. Thankfully there are lenders who consider these arrangements under certain conditions:

  • The contract must have 6 months remaining, with minimum 10% deposit and  a clean credit history
  • OR it must have a minimum of 12 months left on a new contract, minimum 5% deposit and a clean credit history
  • OR it must be in a 12 month contract having had it previously renewed at least once, minimum 5% deposit and ideally a clean credit history (20% deposit with adverse).

Ideally short term contract workers need to have relatively clean recent credit history (avoid any late/missed payments in the last 2 years), but the longer the time in position and the more deposit you have, the better your chances of approval with adverse credit.


Currently there is great demand for agency work and thus considerably increased pay, which can be an attractive prospect for social workers who want to earn more money and don’t mind the lack of security a temporary position brings.

This does impact mortgage applications however, as lenders like a solid stable salary and a regular sustainable income on which to base their lending decisions. It makes sense that if the applicant in a temporary role could find themselves out of work at any point, the probability of them missing mortgage payments is greater. Thankfully there are some specialist agency-friendly mortgage lenders out there, but they do have certain criteria you’ll need to meet in order to gain approval:

  • Must have been in the current position with the same agency for minimum of 12 months
  • Ideally have relatively clean recent credit history (avoid any late/missed payments in the last 2 years)
  • Must have minimum of 5% deposit if clean credit or 20% if adverse credit
  • Must be borrowing within 5x income if clean credit or 4x income if adverse credit

Sole trader & limited companies

There are occasions where social workers can trade as self-employed. In these instances, borrowers are treated as any other self-employed applicant under standard criteria. This means most lenders will require a trading history of 3 years, and lend based on the company’s declared net profit (if sole trader) or salary + dividends (if ltd). There are some lenders that are more flexible than this however, and in many ways being registered self-employed makes finding a lender easier as they consider more the trading history of the business than the current contract or employment status.

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Speak to a specialist key worker mortgage broker

If you’re a key worker and are looking towards home ownership, it can be daunting to know where to begin your search for the right deal, the most fitting scheme and the best lender for your circumstance. This is where an honest, reliable and impartial advisor to hold your hand is ideal to partner with. They can save you time, money and ease the burden of stress throughout the process.

The experts we work with have been vetted for five-star rating customer service and are fully trained. We can match you with the right professional for your circumstances straight away. All you have to do is give us a free initial call on 0808 189 2301 or make an online enquiry.

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Yes, it’s possible. There are flexible lenders out there who are willing to consider your application as a whole with an individual approach. They will look at your income and affordability, and the right broker can help you with any hurdles in the application process. To find out there you might stand initially, check your credit position here.

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About the author

Pete, an expert in all things mortgages, cut his teeth right in the middle of the credit crunch. With plenty of people needing help and few mortgage providers lending, Pete found great success in going the extra mile to find mortgages for people whom many others considered lost causes. The experience he gained, coupled with his love of helping people reach their goals, led him to establish Online Mortgage Advisor, with one clear vision – to help as many customers as possible get the right advice, regardless of need or background.

Pete’s presence in the industry as the ‘go-to’ for specialist finance continues to grow, and he is regularly cited in and writes for both local and national press, as well as trade publications, with a regular column in Mortgage Introducer and being the exclusive mortgage expert for LOVEMoney. Pete also writes for Online Mortgage Advisor of course!

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Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

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