One Pound Houses

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 renewing 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, because they could not move faster at getting more families in that creating a thriving community of like-minded people working hard at renovating their homes. A higher occupation 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 income from council tax could be:

50 houses X £ 100 CT = £ 5000 per month. Which is not provided whilst houses are empty!

If council tax was halved for the first 6 months while the houses were renovated and tuition / support offered from a team of vetted builders, also doing work at a subsidized 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 defied satisfied and compensation 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.