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