Over 600 households have been helped to improve their homes through the Kick Start scheme, a multi local authority project delivered in North Staffordshire by Staffordshire Housing Association.
Kick Start provided low cost finance for vital repairs with the loan secured against the equity in the property which was being improved.
A review of the scheme reveals it has:
- Helped over 600 households
- Helped these households to release in excess of £4.5m of equity from their property to pay for essential works
- Increased the well-being and independence of these households
- Sustained important jobs in the local construction industry.
But with applications for the scheme now closed, Staffordshire Housing Association is lobbying the Government to sanction alternative schemes for home owners in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle borough and the Staffordshire Moorlands.
The Government has not come up with a direct replacement for Kick Start – leaving often vulnerable residents to find their own help from banks and building societies.
Barry Pitts, Business Development Director at Staffordshire Housing Association, held talks with Housing Minister, Grant Shapps MP in a meeting organised by Joan Walley, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North.
“We told the Minister of the success of Kick Start and that we were anxious that a new system was developed to help people get finance at a reasonable cost to improve their homes.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to work with the financial industry to identify new loan products but this must be accelerated so that householders can get the help they need.
“Existing equity products are unlikely to be suitable or practicable for all and may fail the most vulnerable because products are complex, predicated on high loan values and in some cases slow.”
Mr Pitts urged the Minister that not-for-profit social housing organisations, such as SHA should be given the opportunity to work with loan providers to promote home improvement in their local areas.
Ms Walley described the loss of Kick Start as a “big casualty of Government cuts” and said it was having a direct impact on residents in Stoke-on-Trent.
“I am calling for Government to require finance companies to offer affordable designated equity products in areas like ours. People must not be deterred by unaffordable disproportionate fees.
“Having Staffordshire Housing spell out the detailed work they have done at that meeting made all the difference. I intend to keep on pressing Government to act on our experience.”
Notes to Editors:
Kick Start funding is designed to help people who do not have the money to pay for repairs and improvements. The scheme offers a range of low cost loans and project manages the work on behalf of householders.
In most cases, home owners do not have to pay back their loans until homes are sold. Alternatively, for smaller jobs, there is an interest-free loan of between £250 and £2000 to be paid back in monthly instalments.
All work is carried out by reputable builders and the scheme is fully backed by Stoke on Trent City Council and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.
Staffordshire Housing Association is committed to building a better future for local communities. Established in 1984, SHA provide a huge range of tenant services including maintenance, tenancy support, estate management and gardening, as well as essential guidance on income management, money advice and benefits assessments. They are committed to improving live in Staffordshire through regeneration, supported housing, older people’s villages, key worker homes and a rolling programme of home improvements.
Subsidiary company, Blue Mountain Housing Association, also work closely with refugee and local BME communities to provide essential support with healthcare, education, training and employment as well as access to quality housing.
For more information please visit www.staffshousing.org.uk.