Covid-19 keyworkers are benefitting from a new scheme launched in Wolverhampton to help people make the dream of owning a home a reality.

‘Help to Own’ is providing the opportunity for local people to get on the property ladder without a deposit and ultimately buy their home for £1 on expiry of their lease.

A report going before City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet tonight (Wednesday) shows half of the 70 applications approved so far for the 100-home pilot scheme on The Marches site in Wednesfield are for key workers, while 61% of applicants come from Wolverhampton.

The Council working in partnership with West Midlands Combined Authority and Frontier Development Capital Ltd (FDC) launched the regional home ownership scheme in March this year. Fund management business FDC launched NewCo My Generation Group Limited to support delivery of the scheme.

It creates an ideal first step on the property ladder for Covid-19 keyworkers and others, enabling tenants to rent a quality new build home for the long-term. As they make their monthly payments the scheme anticipates they will build up a Loyalty Premium. Tenants can take their Loyalty Premium as cash if they leave the scheme within the first 20 years, or alternatively use it to get a tenancy for another 5 years and buy their home for £1 on the 25th anniversary.

City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said: “Our key workers – like those just down the road from The Marches at New Cross Hospital - have been at the forefront of our long and taxing battle against Covid-19 and it is hugely satisfying to know we have produced a home ownership scheme with our partners that really does help them achieve their dream of home ownership.

“We are delighted our city is piloting this ground-breaking scheme that is giving local people the opportunity to get on the property ladder and own new, quality homes.

“It is a new plan for homeowners, which aims to make home ownership more accessible.

“The reason we are also in a great position to bring forward a scheme like this is because the Council has its own well-established housing company, WV Living.

“WV Living is delivering high quality homes at the Marches and across the city to help speed up the delivery of new homes, using vacant sites overlooked by private sector developers.

“As a Council we are committed to delivering more and better homes for all and this pioneering ‘Help to Own’ scheme is not only a fantastic opportunity for local people to benefit – but could also be a game changer in home ownership nationally.”

The scheme has only been possible as result of the partners coming together and sharing the cost.

Help to Own on this demonstrator project has the potential to offer hardworking families, including key workers, access to high quality 2, 3 and 4-bedroom houses located in a prime position for transport links and New Cross Hospital, without the need for a deposit.

Following the pilot the intention is to roll the scheme out regionally and nationally.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Over recent years the West Midlands has undergone a housebuilding revolution, with record numbers of homes built; swathes of brownfield land remediated; and a new definition of affordability introduced. Now Help to Own is the next part of our plans to continue to lead the way on housebuilding and make home ownership more realistic for people across the region.

“One of the most exciting parts of our scheme is that the homes are being prioritised for key workers, including our wonderful NHS staff. With half of the applicants so far being key workers, Help to Own really is a fitting way to thank those who have been on the frontline against the coronavirus pandemic over the past 18 months.

“A truly collaborative scheme, Help to Own is a fantastic example of what happens in the West Midlands when we work together. I look forward to continue working with partners as we look to roll our innovative and pioneering scheme out to the rest of the West Midlands in due course and set a path for other parts of the country to follow.”

Sam Miller, Commercial Director - New Propositions at FDC, said: “Since inception Help to Own has had a clear mission; to support renters in the UK to access the property ladder. Rents and house prices continue to rocket, creating a huge barrier for people trying to save a deposit. 

“We’re thrilled that since launching the scheme, our partnership with WMCA, Wolverhampton Council and WV Living has resulted in a very positive response to the scheme. We are now making significant progress providing 100 households with a high-quality new-build home at The Marches, Wolverhampton, all via a truly innovative housing product that offers both flexibility and security.”

To see more details about the scheme, please visit Help to Own.