THE Help to Buy scheme – which allows people to beat high prices and get on the housing ladder – got off to a slow start in Hampshire, new figures show.

Just 59 households in Southampton took out equity loans to help them buy a new-build property in the first nine months of the programme.

And even fewer people took advantage of Help to Buy in Fareham (28), Winchester (26), the Isle of Wight (21), Gosport (10) and New Forest (5).

But it has had more impact in Test Valley (78) and Eastleigh (61), the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) statistics show.

However the figures cover only the equity loan part of Help to Buy, which offers up to 20 per cent of the purchase price – provided a five per cent deposit is paid.

Because it is available for new-build properties only, it also shines a light on where much-needed housebuilding is taking place.

No detailed statistics have yet been published for the separate – far more controversial – part of Help to Buy, which offers lenders a taxpayer-backed guarantee to encourage mortgage loans.

It is that £130 billion scheme, for existing properties as well, which has been criticised for risking a fresh housing bubble, by encouraging demand without boosting housing supply.

Across south Hampshire, a total of 288 equity loans were made between April and December last year, worth a total of £13.62m.

No interest has to be paid for the first five years – and the loan can be paid back on the sale of the property.

Across the country, there were 14,823 completed sales and a further 25,247 reservations were made.

Prime Minister David Cameron even travelled to Southampton as he highlighted local examples as success stories.

Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, said: “We’re now seeing buyers returning to the market in droves and new homes being built across the country.

“Both buying and building are at their highest levels since 2007, underpinned by our action to cut the deficit and keep interest rates low. But there’s still more to do.”

The DCLG said the average price of a property bought was £184,000 and 89 per cent of completed sales were by first-time buyers.

Ministers have argued that its support for home-buyers is finally getting the country building again, with more than 400,000 homes built since 2010.

But figures yesterday showed that home ownership in England has fallen to its lowest level since 1987 – because of high house prices and a squeeze on mortgages.