But housing campaigners claim the scheme is “sticking a plaster” on the failure to build enough homes nationally, while doing nothing to help renters with no savings.
Until March 31, the scheme allowed buyers to borrow up to 20% of the value of a new build home – rising to 40% in London – provided they paid at least a 5% deposit and the home cost no more than £600,000.
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows 382 loans were given to first-time buyers in Northumberland using the scheme in the year to March – 61 more than the previous year and the highest number since the scheme launched in 2013.
They were among 476 households in the area which benefitted from the scheme, meaning 80% of the loans were handed out to people buying their first home.
The loans amounted to £21.5 million in total – equating to an average of £45,200.
Across England, £4 billion worth of Help to Buy loans were handed out in 2020-21, when more than 55,600 households benefitted from the scheme – a record high.
More than four in five were first-time buyers.
But Priced Out, which campaigns for affordable house prices, said the fact so many people have to borrow money to buy their first home shows a “failure” to control house price inflation.
Anya Martin, director, said: “Prices have risen faster than incomes for decades now, and all because we have failed to meet higher demand with higher supply.
“The Government is not doing enough to ensure more people can buy their first home.
“They hold the levers to stabilise or bring down house prices, but instead of allowing more homes to be built, they keep pumping up the market with more cash.”
Since April 2013, the average purchase price of properties bought with a Help to Buy equity loan nationally has been £277,300, with an average loan of £61,200.
Housing charity Shelter said the Government must focus on doing more for the "huge" number of people across the country who are closer to homelessness than home ownership.
Polly Neate, the charity's chief executive, said: "Over a million households are anxiously waiting for a social home, but fewer than 7,000 were built last year.
“Expensive home ownership schemes are never going to solve the housing crisis, investing in genuinely affordable social homes actually will."
Changes to Help to Buy equity loan scheme were brought in from April, meaning it is now only open to first-time buyers, with house price caps set regionally instead of nationally.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Over 55,000 households bought their home with the support of Help to Buy equity loan last year: a record year for the scheme, which is helping young people and first-time buyers feel the sense of pride and achievement that comes with owning your own home.”
He added the Government is doing everything it can to make home buying a “affordable and realistic ambition”, through various schemes, including Help to Buy.