Posted by: Alex Wellman23/11/2011
The government’s housing strategy for England was released on Monday with much fanfare.
But, like many have already said, it is lacking in detail and what it did say, most of us already knew.
Take its plans for tackling empty homes.
Reading through the chapter (all three-and-a-half pages of it) which sets out how the coalition government will bring some of 700,000 plus empty homes back into use, you get a sense of déjà vu.
Awarding new homes bonus to empty homes brought back into use? Yep, we know about that - the consultation on it began this time last year.
Investing £100 million funding to bring empty homes back into use? Check, letters were sent to council leaders in October 2010.
Consulting on giving councils powers to levy additional council tax on empty homes? Roger that, Andrew Stunell announced this at the Liberal Democrat party conference in September this year.
A further £50m to tackle some of the worst concentrations of empty homes and match funding from local partners? Er, that one’s new…I think.
Of the main parts of the government’s strategy to rectify one of the embarrassments of the housing sector, only one appears to be new and that involves throwing an extra £50m in the pot.
That’s not to appear ungrateful. This cash is much needed and will go some way to alleviating the problem that areas such as Leeds and Liverpool experience.
The problem is that after so long a time and so many different people saying ‘wait for the strategy’, it comes as something of a disappointment.
Empty homes are one part of housing which can have a fairly immediate impact on a number of different aspects of communities.
Jobs are created, homes are brought back into use and, quite often, areas are reinvigorated.
It is good that there is action being taken on empty homes and I truly hope this strategy has the desired impact, it is just slightly disappointing that there were no pre-Christmas surprises…at least none we wanted.
From Can we fix it?
Alex Wellman takes a look at what’s going on in the social housing contracting sector