A scheme setting aside £1million to help first-time buyers purchase their homes has been launched.

The initiative between Braintree Council, Essex County Council (ECC) and Lloyds Bank is the first local authority mortgage scheme to be set up in the county.

Residents will be able to visit Lloyds branches in Braintree, Witham and Halstead from today onwards to express their interest in the scheme.

David Bebb, Braintree Council cabinet member for performance and efficiency, said: “In addition to the government’s national initiative we have been keen to introduce our own scheme in this area, and I am delighted that through working with ECC we are the first district in the county to support our residents in this way.

“Many first-time buyers are unable to afford a deposit, even though they could afford mortgage repayments, and so through launching this scheme we will be aiding these people make that first step which will help stimulate the local housing market and benefit the wider local economy.”

The scheme will allow first-time buyers to purchase a home with a deposit of only five per cent, with the remaining 20 per cent being guaranteed by the two councils.

ECC leader David Finch, councillor for Hedingham, said: “Through this scheme we are helping hard working families make that first step on the property ladder.

“As well as helping to achieve their aspirations this scheme will also help support the government’s objectives of supporting sustainable housing and construction growth which helps stimulate new jobs.

“Councils need to work together to provide solutions to the challenges facing their local communities and this is a fantastic example of the county council and the local district council doing just that.

“I am delighted that we have been able to launch this scheme today in Braintree.”

Subject to Lloyds’ lending criteria, borrowers can select any existing property valued up to £250,000.

Marc Page, mortgages director at Lloyds Bank, said: "With the launch of Local Lend a Hand in Braintree we're making the housing market more accessible to more people.

“Helping people to buy their first home is crucial in achieving and maintaining a sustainable housing market. Local Lend a Hand addresses some of the real problems that prospective buyers in Braintree might face."

Those interested in the local scheme should visit their local branch of Lloyds Bank or visit braintree.gov.uk