The ‘Help to Buy’ scheme – to allow people to beat high prices and get on the housing ladder – got off to a strong start in Bradford and Leeds, new figures show.

A total of 153 households in Bradford took out an equity loan to help them buy a new-build property in the first nine months of the programme, along with 230 in Leeds, 41 in Kirklees and 17 in Calderdale.

The loans for the four authorities, made available between April and December last year, reached a total of £14.78million, the government statistics show.

The buyers have been attracted by the opportunity to borrow up to 20 per cent of the purchase price, provided a five per cent deposit is paid down.

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

The early ‘Help to Buy’ figures suggest the scheme will be far more successful than the ‘NewBuy’ initiative, which allowed deposits of just five per cent but offered no equity loan.

Kris Hopkins, Ilkley Conservative MP and housing minister, said he was “delighted” with the response to the scheme, announced in last year’s Budget.

He said: “With each of these sales being a newly built home, I am also pleased that housebuilders are using this momentum to build more, getting workers back on sites and getting Britain building once again.

“All this is a key part of our long-term economic plan, helping to bring housebuilding to its highest level since 2007 – and orders for construction materials are at a ten-year high.”

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

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

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

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

Last week’s figures showed that home ownership in England has fallen to its lowest level since 1987 because of high house prices and a squeeze on mortgages.