Tuesday, 02 September 2014

£100m to bring empty homes back into use

The Government has announced a £100 million fund to bring empty homes back into use as part of the comprehensive spending review.

In a letter sent to council leaders outlining the coalition government’s plans for reforming housing in the next four years, housing minister Grant Shapps gave details of the fund.

It comes as part of £6.5 billion of housing investment in housing by the department for Communities and Local Government. Of this, £4.5 billion would be for new affordable homes, the letter says.

David Ireland, chief executive of campaigning group Empty Homes, welcomed the decision to bring existing stock back into use, but noted that it would not be without its challenges.

‘The overall impact of the comprehensive spending review will mean that affordable homes will need to be provided more cheaply than before. We believe that bringing empty homes into use can provide good homes at low cost,’ he said.

‘Getting empty homes back is not easy. But this is a unique opportunity for councils, housing associations and community groups to bring their skills together to create new homes out of empty property.’

England has 762,000 empty homes. Plans to enable local authorities to bid for money from the Regional Growth Fund for capital projects that could support housing growth and housing market renewal were also included in the letter. More details are expected to be released soon.

Readers' comments (16)

  • The problem about these empty homes is that there almost invariably up North, in a terrible state, where there's no jobs and nothing much in the way of society so that not even an itinerant immigrant from Moldovia clutching an HB cheque is much interested in living there.

    £100m on offer tells you the initiative is pure gesture.

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  • Sidney Webb

    What a joy it was to watch the private landlord representative on the news this morning stating that the private sector is ready to stand up to the mark and provide the housing needed for those facing homelessness - just as soon as they raise the money to buy the houses! Fortunately Orr was on hand to explain that in London and the South East, where the demand is, there are not the vacant houses and homes need to be built, need to be affordable, and are needed now.

    But then the Rep tried to defend the PSL exploitation of the benefit payments by stating that if the market values sustain such high rents then that is what will be charged. 'All in it together' - not!

    Back to the article - even if the homes were in the right place, i.e. where there were jobs, £1M to spend on £3/4M homes is just over £1 each - typical Shapps mathematics. What refurbishment will there be for £1, a new door mat perhaps?

    When next year the cuts bite will the Yuppie supporters be moaning that their coffee bar has closed as the workforce can not afford to live in the area, or travel into work anymore, along with key workers, shop staff and the like. Will they be able to travel around London if the street cleaners have all had to move to Ireland as some posters on this site wish. True affordable housing, and new affordable homes built, along with rent regulation is the alternative that needs to be fought for for all of our children's sake.

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  • Sounds like the Whitehall machine telling local people what their priorities are. Shocked.

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  • "Anonymous | 25/10/2010 10:00 am
    The problem about these empty homes is that there almost invariably up North, in a terrible state, where there's no jobs and nothing much in the way of society so that not even an itinerant immigrant from Moldovia clutching an HB cheque is much interested in living there."

    Maybe Anon should be replaced by "uninformed southerner"

    In reality the north west is the third most prosperous region in the UK behind London and the South East in terms of economic output. Couple that with the North West's dominance in sports - rugby, football etc. A thriving arts and music scene in Manchester and Liverpool, the splendor of the Lake district... i could go on.

    Now compare this to London and the south east where people pay £1000's to live in tiny substandard accomodation, commute for hours each day just to travel 10 mile to high paying jobs that they need just to pay the £7.50 for their lunchtime sandwich, if they don't get stabbed on their way to the shop.

    I'll stay up north thanks, much friendlier and the people don't think the sun shines out of their ....

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  • Mr P

    Very good anonymous northerner.

    I particularly liked the joke about something thriving in Liverpool.

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  • Sidney Webb

    Don't worry anonymous, now you've exposed the fun that you have in Cheshire and surrounds, Pickles will return north like a cloud of doom and despair to take it all away, just so you do not feel left out like you were in the 80's when, according to some, only London saved the country from needing to be closed down because of the many wasteful industries in the north that employed people and made stuff.

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  • Council's should have the power to issue orders for properties to be brought up to habitable standards and rented. If the owners do not comply and also show that they have the finances to do this, the properties should be taken from them for the land value less demolition costs.

    RP's could then either bring the property up to standard, or demolish the property and build on the site. The £100m could be used to make the projects viable, with the bulk of the funding coming from RP's private bank funding.

    The £100m would go a long way with this plan. I suspect that in most cases the grant would be around 10% maximum to make the projects viable meaning that we'd provide £1bn of 'new' properties. This could fund up to 10,000 properties.

    If the owners comply with the first part to avoid compulsory purchase, the figures could be higher.

    How many empty properties are there in the UK?

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  • This could fund up to 10,000 properties.

    Sorry - that should have said 100,000

    I reckon 10,000 would be the minimum if all were bulldozed and had new build on them.

    I can't belive there are over 700,000 empty homes in the UK - that can't be right, can it?????

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  • Sidney Webb

    SHW- On your plucked out of the air and shoved up on air figures it would take 35-years to bring back the governments alleged 3/4M empty homes - so you agree that Shapps's little nest egg is inadequate? Re the number empty, Shapps was due to pulish a map showing where they all are, but for some reason has not done so! (probably akin to their 1/2M illegal immigrant claim - if they knew how many then why not do something, even if it did mean closing their supporters farms!)

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  • The Brighton Argus featured several properties this week in the Leader newspaper which desperately needed to be brought into use; office blocks, former care homes, failed develoments among them. Sites such as Preston Barracks, are empty nearly a decade after they were designated for develoment. Unfortunately money is only part of the problem; planning and legal issues abound. I suspect that to get results local authories should be given greater powers compulsory purchase and sale.

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