ALMOST a quarter of a million people have been helped onto the housing ladder by the Government's Help to Buy scheme, says a new report.

According to the Home Builders Federation, 170,000 homes were bought through the equity loan scheme between April 2013 and March 2018.

Eight-one per cent of those were first-time buyers.

Help to Buy has not been without its critics, with some commentators claiming it has been used by better-off households to move up the property ladder, and has boosted housebuilders' profits and inflated house price growth.

However, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) has described the scheme as "an unmitigated success".

It adds that 150,000 jobs have been supported and sustained due to extra housing supply.

Since the scheme launched, housing supply has increased by 74 per cent, the fastest increase on record, to levels last seen in the 1950s, says the HBF.

The Government is said to be considering whether to close the scheme in 2021, when funding is due to end, or to limit it to first-time buyers.