FOR teenage sweethearts Katie Birnie and Dean Stokes getting on the property ladder has been a nightmare – until now.
The Gloucester couple, both 21, have just taken possession of the keys to their first home after their deposit was boosted by a scheme run by Gloucestershire County Council and Lloyds TSB.
They only had a small deposit to buy a home and it would have taken the pair, who have been together for six years, at least another year to get a £10,000 deposit together.
But since Friday, Mr Stokes, a car mechanic, and Miss Birnie, a shop assistant at Tesco, have been rolling up their sleeves and painting their new walls.
"It has been very difficult to get this far because we were living at our parents and struggling to find the money for the deposit," said Mr Stokes, who met his partner at the former Brockworth Enterprise School.
Miss Birnie added: "We never thought we'd be able to do it this quickly but we are very excited to get started. I am most looking forward to Christmas and settling in."
The couple are one of 24 first-time buyers who have moved in to new homes thanks to the Local Lend A Hand scheme. It sees the council hand over 20 per cent of the property value to the bank and earn interest on it.
It was part of a £12 million Grow Gloucestershire project, which is designed to improve the county's infrastructure and help young people develop their adult lives in the county.
The scheme may return again next year, Councillor Mark Hawthorne, leader of the county council, has hinted.
Mr Hawthorne handed over the keys to Mr Stokes and bought them a celebratory bottle of wine.
He said: "I am delighted to see a young couple like them getting onto the property ladder here in our county.
"We have to take a long hard look at the budget for next year but this is something I would really like to continue as it is really valuable."