Alison Watson: What employers can do to support staff buying their first home?

Alison WatsonCurrent environmental and economic issues are causing many to struggle with paying bills, and this is coming at a time when more and more young people are struggling to get a foot on the property ladder due to increasing property prices and below-inflation pay rises.

The government has recently revealed plans to help those on benefits step onto the property ladder but, for those in the workplace, central support is not quite as forthcoming. There are many things employers can do, though, to support their workforce during this time of unprecedented squeeze on our incomes and rapidly inflating house prices, and help them to get a foothold on the property ladder.

The most important thing employers can do is to ensure they commit to fair pay as this gives staff the income required to save for a deposit, often alongside costly rent, and puts them in the best position possible to secure a mortgage when they approach their bank.

But the quality of the contract they are on is also key. Lenders want to see that applicants are in stable, continuous employment, making it difficult for those on zero-hours contracts or temporary arrangements to gain approval for a mortgage. Employers should also be at hand to support throughout the process, providing supporting statements for their employees if required by lenders and providing flexibility so they can manage the complex business of buying a house while still successfully undertaking their day-to-day job.

This is all highly important, and it is true to say that the opportunity to buy property enables people to thrive, and better their social position and wellbeing for themselves and their families.

Alison Watson is head of the School of Leadership and Management at Arden University