AS the number of new homes being built in the borough soars first time buyers are being helped to get on the property ladder with the offer of mortgages with a five per cent deposit.

Figures released by the The Department of Communities and Local Government have revealed that nationally the number of new houses built in the 12 months up to March 2014 had risen by 31 per cent.

In St Helens numbers rocketed by 90 per cent, with 766 additional homes either completed or under construction.

St Helens Council Leader Barrie Grunewald explained: “Thanks to a proactive policy of working closely with local and national housing developers, as well as housing associations like Helena Partnerships, we’ve been able to improve choice and provide a great mix of available housing for our residents.

“We’ve also launched the Lend a Hand mortgage scheme – which helps first-time buyers get onto the property ladder with a deposit of just five per cent. With many lenders either not offering mortgages - or demanding big deposits - buyers often struggle to get their first home.”

In the same period work began on 133,650 new homes in England.

St Helens Councils provide a free pre-application planning service for developers and residents who want to extend their own properties.

Cllr Grunewald said: “The figures clearly show that St Helens works with developers to get things done. The council is continuing to work closely with developers to source new national and local funding to help them get on site quickly and build more houses – including more affordable homes for first time buyers.”