George’s work with the Government leads to £155 million empty homes boost

Communities minister Andrew Stunell has announced a £155 million injection for local authorities to bring empty properties back into use as homes.

Following bidding processes, 20 successful councils will each receive a slice of £60 million to tackle clusters of empty homes.

In addition, voluntary and community groups across the country will receive over £25 million to tackle individual empty properties in their area. Stunell says this should make another 5,600 empty homes habitable again.

The number of long term empty homes has fallen to the lowest level since 2004, but with 720,000 empty homes across England, Mr Stunell believes there is still more to do.

Stunell said: “The number of empty homes in this country is a national disgrace – for every two families that need a home there is one standing empty. Empty homes bring down a neighbourhood and attract vandals and fly-tipping, as well as being a waste of much needed housing.”

George, who was recently appointed as an independent empty homes adviser to the Government, said: “The announcement of this funding is a fantastic step forward in bringing empty homes back into use, especially the £25 million of funding for community and voluntary groups.

“It’s now up to these organisations to think creatively using new forms of procurement like homesteading, sweat equity and apprenticeship schemes to make every penny stretch as far as possible.

 

Investment to date

Previous announcements have seen £70 million allocated to bring empty homes back into use as affordable housing, the appointment of George as an independent adviser to the government on empty homes, and plans brought forward to allow councils to charge extra council tax on properties vacant for two years or more through the Empty Homes Premium.

Today’s announcement brings the total investment to £215 million to bring empty properties back into use.

Local authority projects

Examples of clusters of empty homes funding include House to Home – an innovative town centre regeneration project that will see 100 empty properties brought back into use in Gresham, Middlesbrough. The bid uses over a £1 million private sector investment and a commitment to use local labour throughout the process.

Community-led efforts

In some areas, the expertise for returning empty homes into use lies with community groups or voluntary organisations and that is why £25.8 million grant is being given to innovative schemes around the country that will allow groups to make a real difference where in the past they have often struggled to be involved or raise financing.

Examples of winning schemes, which have been agreed in principle, include:

  • A homesteading scheme in Stoke to refurbish terraced housing;
  • 7 schemes from YMCAs to return properties to use; and
  • Renovated properties to provide accommodation for women at risk of domestic violence

 

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Showing 2 comments
  • B
    Reply

    Hi George,

    When Councils look to prioritise empty homes due to the money they can recieve from the New Homes Bonus Bolton Council proposes to cut its one and only Empty Homes Officer.

    This officers work featured on the HCA website as best practice and the Council had made big strides to reduce the number of empty homes within the borough utilising both informal and formal procedures for owners who failed to cooperate.

    Now the Council empty homes work will be an add-on to a service which is overstretched so will no longer be a priority.

    As a landlord i now fear that empty homes surrounding my properties will drag down the value, increase ASB to name a few. And i now won’t have an officer to contact to discuss the Councils actions to reduce empty homes.

    Bad day for your campaign which i support and a bad day for Bolton

    Boltons empty homes will remain empty with the Council no longer prioritising this piece of work.

    regards,

  • B
    Reply

    Bolton Council has succesfuuly brought a gable end terraced house back into use utilising a Final EDMO, its 2nd Final Edmo in 2 years.

    Bolton Council empty homes officer again shows no fear in utilising legislation to ensure homes are brought back into use. Pity that they propose to cut their empty homes officer role as part of their cost cutting exercise. There will be no more EDMO’s in Bolton and the proactive work to reduce empty homes will cease. So homes which lie empty in areas where i own and manage properties will lie empty causing me problems.

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