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Fears first time buyers scheme will run dry
A £1 million scheme to help first time buyers get on the housing ladder in Worcester has around 20 per cent of the cash left - amid fears it will run dry before being re-launched.
Worcester City Council’s Labour leadership is being urged to bring forward another £1m for the project after fresh figures showed how close it is ending.
So far 20 people have used it to buy a property in the city, and seven are currently awaiting completion.
Councillor Marc Bayliss, deputy leader of the Tory group, has been told just £140,000 is left in the pot.
It means on current demand, the cash is likely to run out by September or October.
It launched in April last year and the authority has another £1m ready to inject into a re-launch, but is waiting on the outcome of a review first.
It led to sparks flying at a scrutiny meeting, where Lib Dem Councillor Ken Carpenter said there was “no particular urgency”.
Coun Bayliss said: “This is a very successful scheme which has helped 27 people already, there’s money to help more people and I don’t see why we can’t get on with it.”
Coun Chris Mitchell, a fellow Conservative, said: “To me, it looks like we’ve spent 75 per cent of the money in 50 per cent of the financial year, at best.”
During the debate Coun Bayliss produced data showing how March was the third most popular month for house sales in the UK last year.
He said: “We’ve got barely enough left for three or four houses in the next six to eight months - isn’t the time to be putting money in right now?”
Under the offer, the buyer needs to find a deposit of just five per cent, with the city council underwriting 20 per cent of the home’s value under an indemnity.
The project, called Lend a Hand, is managed by Lloyds TSB.
Councillor Roger Berry, the cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said he is prepared to wait until launching it again.
“We need to see the success, or otherwise, of these other Government schemes to help first time buyers first.”
Councillor Joy Squires, also from Labour, said: “We want to look at it carefully before we form a view.”
The review is ongoing, and in September more details about the cash left is expected to come before the scrutiny committee.
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