Under the ‘First Rung’ scheme, Applegate’s Workplace Degree employees will be encouraged to put aside part of their wages they receive into a saving scheme of their choosing. On successful completion of the programme, each will have their savings matched if they choose to use them to get on the housing ladder – providing up to £20,000 each as a total deposit.

 “Two challenges we face in Devon are that it can be hard for young people to get onto the housing ladder and that we’re not keeping enough of our brightest and best in the area when they finish college” explained Applegate’s Chief Executive, Stuart Brocklehurst. “The ‘First Rung’ scheme is intended to help address both these issues, and also to reward our brilliant Workplace Degree employees who complete the programme and complete their degree.”

 “The Workplace Degree Programme is a great alternative to a residential university course” Stuart continued. “After five years you have a degree, two professional qualifications, work experience in responsible roles, zero student debt and now – if you wish – could buy your first home.”

Jon Loates, a Workplace Degree Student, is taking part in the scheme and has already started to save. He commented “Getting a degree and getting on the housing ladder both set you up well for life. I was planning to save for a deposit anyway, the ‘First Rung’ scheme has really encouraged me to make a start.”

Claire Knight, another Student of the Applegate Workplace Degree, agrees, “The chance to own my first home by the age of 23: that feels like it would be such a great achievement. The degree apprenticeship is a brilliant programme anyway; this is the icing on the cake!”

We now have new students coming in, who are more than keen to opt in to the First Rung housing scheme.

Phoebe Ward a first year of the Applegate Workplace Degree programme said, “The first rung scheme is something I definitely want to take part in, to think in 5 years’ time, I will be on my way to having a deposit down on a house, finishing a degree and invaluable work experience is something you can’t say no to!”.

Stuart Brocklehurst concludes, “We’re hoping that other employers in Devon might adopt this programme as well: it has the potential to make a real difference to the area. We know some are interested in doing so – but there’s a sting in the tail. To provide £10,000 to a Workplace Degree Student for their deposit, we have to pay almost as much again in Income Tax, Employee National Insurance and Employers’ National Insurance: this scheme to help young people will end up paying almost as much to the taxman. For large companies there are programmes such as Save As Your Earn, but those aren’t available to the smaller and mid-sized businesses that employ many people in the South West. Some partial relief could go a long way to encouraging businesses to provide this support.”


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