Epping Forest residents have used around 200 loans from the Government's Help to Buy equity loan scheme to buy properties, figures show.

Industry figures are calling on the Government to extend the scheme beyond 2021 because of the "significant" effect it would have in helping the country recover from the coronavirus outbreak.

The loans can be used to purchase a new build property up to the value of £600,000, and can cover up to 20 per cent of the price.

Since it was launched in 2013, 183 loans have been used in Epping Forest to buy properties, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show.

The loans have been worth a total of £15.72 million in the area.

Houses sold under the scheme have now reached £70.3 billion nationally over seven years, with 2019 responsible for nearly £16 billion of this.

The current scheme is to be replaced by a new one in April 2021, which is limited to first-time buyers with reduced regional property price caps – set at £407,400 for the East of England.

The majority of loans (83 per cent) in Epping Forest were taken out by first-time buyers – meaning the scheme in the area has a higher percentage of first-time buyers than the average across England (81 per cent).

Separate figures show the average property price for Epping Forest in February was £448,300, which is below the current cap but above the proposed one.

The Home Builders Federation said the scheme, which has been "integral" to housing supply, will effectively end in December as qualifying sales transactions will need to be agreed by then.

Executive chairman Stewart Baseley added: "The requirement for thousands of builders to register for a new scheme with as yet undefined rules would cause an inevitable interruption in its take up.

"As we look to increase production and restart the housing market, removing this barrier by extending the scheme could play a significant part in supporting and sustaining the recovery.”

Last year saw 31 loans used in Epping Forest – which was a decrease on 2018, when there were 46.

The average amount loaned was £97,600 in Epping Forest, significantly above the £69,400 across England.

The Mortgage Advice Bureau said house building has a huge economic footprint each year, and financial support for buyers must be maintained during the Covid-19 outbreak.

James Chidgey, its new homes relationship manager, said: “Since the aftermath of the credit crisis back in 2013, the innovative and very popular Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme has been a key driver in getting Britain building again, taken up by over a quarter of a million households when buying a new home.

"With housebuilders having construction work halted by Covid-19 for well over two months, it is imperative that the closure of the existing scheme is postponed enabling housebuilders to get sites up and running again over the summer.”

A spokeswoman from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Building the homes the country needs is a priority for the Government and we have re-started the housing market this week to help families and business return to normality in a safe way.

“The Government continues to work closely with all parts of the housing industry about the challenges they face during the pandemic.”

Epping Forest Guardian:

For more breaking news, local headlines and features, ‘like’ our Facebook page.

We also have a Twitter account: @EppingFGuardian

Follow us to keep up-to-date with news in Epping Forest.