A government scheme to help military personnel get on the housing ladder has been extended until the end of 2019, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced. The Forces Help to Buy scheme has lent over £242 million to 16,000 armed forces applicants since its introduction in 2014. The scheme allows military personnel to borrow a deposit of up to half of their annual salary, interest free, to contribute towards buying a home, building an extension on their current one or moving to another property. The programme has proved popular amongst service personnel and will now be extended until the end of 2019. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Everyone dreams of owning their own home and this hugely popular scheme has already helped thousands of service personnel realise that dream. By extending the scheme by a further year I really hope we can help many more first time buyers, families and married couples get a foot on the property ladder.” The Forces Help to Buy scheme was designed to provide more flexible support to personnel than its predecessor, the Long Service Advance of Pay, by offering a larger advance of salary to facilitate a home purchase. Regular personnel can now borrow up to 50% of their salary (capped at £25,000), interest free, to buy their first home, extend their current one or move to another property on assignment or as their needs change. The loan can be used towards a deposit and other costs such as solicitor and estate agents’ fees, and can be repaid over a period of up to 10 years. The scheme forms a pivotal part of the Armed Forces Covenant, which is a promise from the nation that those who serve or who have served, and their families, are treated fairly and not disadvantaged.