Liverpool City Council is to set up a ground-breaking, ethical housing company to deliver 10,000 new homes across the city, including bespoke properties for the homeless, foster carers, large families, the elderly and people with a disability.
A report to the council’s cabinet next Friday (December 15) is recommending the authority create the company, to be called Foundations, in a bid to dramatically shake up the city’s housing market and accelerate the rent to buy sector over the coming decade by offering packages that take a percentage from rent towards a deposit.
The Mayor of Liverpool is proposing the radical plan as the city needs 27,000 new homes by 2030 with surveys showing housing supply dominated by small terraced houses, which skews the city’s council tax revenues.
Fuelled by an estimated £500m investment programme Foundations, which will utilise council owned land and refurbish vacant stock, will also enable the council to future proof the housing market for an ageing population, ensuring people can live independently for longer and provide intermediary accommodation that help keeps people out of long-term hospital stays.
Foundations, which is predicted to also create 2,000 new jobs, is one of the main pledges by Mayor Joe Anderson who wants to revolutionise the council’s housing role to bolster home ownership and for the local authority to act as a “high quality, ethical landlord” to help build sustainable neighbourhoods and offer tenants security of tenure.
The new properties would include:
- Bespoke new housing for people who want to downsize, releasing larger homes for families.
- Filling a significant gap in the city for larger homes, especially for families who want to become foster parents, reducing the pressure on the city’s caring provision for children.
- New homes in supported environments for the homeless, rough sleepers and those with addiction problems.
- Affordable rents, which help people save for their deposit to buy the house they are living in.
- Adaptable housing which suits those with disabilities or changing needs due to their age; or can be easily converted in the future, saving the council in social care costs.
By establishing Foundations, the council’s intervention will also help reduce properties becoming void and reduce the chances of properties being converted into inappropriate Houses in Multiple Occupation.
Mayor Anderson said: “Liverpool is a growing city and we need to create an exciting housing sector which meets the needs of our people. We need a wider range of properties to suit a growing range of scenarios, but crucially also help people own their home. That’s why we are going to offer rent packages which help people save for their deposit then buy their home.
“But we also need properties that help us face the future. For example, we want more of our looked after children to live with foster parents rather than in children’s homes, but we also have a shortage of large homes. Foundations will help us build those special homes, and others which will help us save money and improve the city.
“This new housing company will radically reshape Liverpool’s housing market and is called Foundations because that is precisely what it will provide for generations of people.
“Foundations will also help the council benefit from the additional Council Tax we collect from increased housing, like we have already with the 8,000 homes I created in my last mayoral term.
‘’With a lack of government support Foundations is the only logical step. We have stock that can be refurbished and we have land that can be built on so once the company is established we can hit the ground running.
“This will be a win-win for everyone as the council will be able to increase Council Tax, influence the quality of the housing and support people who want to buy by turning rent into a deposit. This company has more than just a social value, its business model also stacks up as a serious investment in the future of the city.
“As we’ve shown through the purchase of the Cunard Building, which now generates £2m a year for the council, our invest to earn strategy works and profits from this new company will also be reinvested into council services to offset the damaging cuts this city has experienced these past seven years.”
A major advantage for the council would be that profits of both house sales and rentals will be returned to the council, as the only shareholder in the company, with a percentage reinvested in new stock.
This latest development takes forward an award-winning approach that is creating 1,500 new properties for sale and rent with Liverpool Mutual Homes and Redrow, via the Liverpool Housing Partnership, using the profits to create 100 affordable homes.
The new housing company, which is to be ratified at the next full council meeting in January 2018, will also underpin the council’s other major strategic housing goals such as the renewal of older neighbourhoods and increasing the levels of home ownership in the city by offering tenants rental products that will enable residents to move from rental to home ownership.
Through the new company the city council will also be considering other property development and property rental opportunities which may be commercially viable e.g. shop, office or other business premises.