HOMEOWNERS in Stockton-on-Tees who are struggling to pay for essential repairs to improve their homes can now seek financial help from Stockton Council thanks to Helping Hand, the North East's home loans scheme.
The Government funded scheme is managed by the North East Home Loans Partnership, which is made up of all 12 councils in North East England. The scheme could help hundreds of people across Stockton Borough to improve their quality of life by making much needed repairs and improvements to their homes.
A total of £2.5million was allocated to the scheme in February 2010 from the department of Communities and Local Government's strategic housing investment pot. The funding has been shared across the 12 local authorities in North East England, with Stockton Council receiving more than £194,600.
The scheme will enable Stockton Council to offer financial support to homeowners through a low interest loan, which can be paid back every month, or secured against the property and repaid once the property is sold or inherited. There are no charges to receive or arrange the loan and no penalties for early repayment.
Financial help is aimed at private homeowners on low incomes, who do not have any affordable financial alternatives. Applicants must be 18 years or over, own their home and have lived there for at least one year.
Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton Council's Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety, said: "The Council is committed to helping residents improve their homes so that they can live in safe and healthy environments. This valuable scheme will enable us to provide the financial support and assistance required to help local people do just that."
Interested applicants will need to have their homes assessed by an advisor to see how much work is needed, the associated costs, and whether they can afford to pay for it themselves. If they are eligible for the scheme, private homeowners will be able to apply for a low cost loan of up to £35,000.
Loans will be administered through the Five Lamps Organisation, a north east social enterprise and lending expert. Help and support is also available for homeowners who can afford to pay for their own repairs but who feel they are unable to manage the process themselves.
The North East Home Loans Partnership has set up a dedicated website about the scheme. To find out more visit www.helpinghandnortheast.org.uk or telephone Stockton Council on (01642) 527797.