The cheapest street in Britain. On Wednesday I watched a documentary on Liverpool’s housing scheme – the opportunity to purchase a dilapidated house for a pound and do it up. That sounds like a fabulous idea for those struggling to get on the housing-ladder, and several families had accepted the offer and were eagerly renovating their properties.
However a few problems came to light. Because the area the houses were in was a run down district, there was a lot of crime, vandalizing and even shootings, which was frightening for the new residence. There were only a few sales amid rows of empty houses.
The council had apparently had 2500 enquiries for the properties, why couldn’t they move faster at getting more families in thus creating a thriving community of like-minded people working hard at renovating their homes. A higher occupancy would probably lower vandalism.
Another problem the new purchasers had, was their lack of the skill-set required to repair rooves, flooring and completely renovating a shell. The work obviously had to be completed to a high standard and the new purchasers were working to a small budget and doing as much of the work as possible; also sometimes their work was being destroyed by vandalism.
Some may say why was the council selling off housing stock? They had previously been planned to redevelop the area but funding ran out – but there were benefits to the scheme:
Selling the houses for renovation would bring in council tax.
Homes would be provided.
The area would be tidied up and improved with new residents taking pride in their properties.
An improved district, once everyone had moved in, less crime etc.
It seems to me with a few tweaks the scheme could produce a win-win solution. By selling say 50 houses a month in due course the revenue from council tax could be:
50 houses X £100 CT = £5000 per month. Which isn’t being provided whilst houses are empty!
If council tax was halved for the first 6 months whilst the houses were renovated and tuition/support offered from a team of vetted builders, also doing work at a subsidised rate, this would encourage more people to purchase, and the uptake would be faster. (The revenue raised could help provide the services).
A thriving community would quickly develop, reduced crime in the area, some housing deficit satisfied and revenue form council tax for the future.
As this is only the first episode it will be interesting to see how the project develops, and how the council deal with the arising problems. The program returns next week.