Posted by: Alex Wellman07/12/2011
I have something terrible to admit.
In a week of almost unprecedented publicity for housing on television thanks to a series of shows on Channel 4, I have yet to see any of it.
Do not get me wrong, these shows are all saved on Sky+ waiting for me to settle down with a glass of Guinness and watch.
It’s not the case that I am not interested - it’s just that a few Christmas drinks with the Brent Labour party in London were the order of the day for Monday night.
And then last night it was down to the end of the Northern Line and into Underhill stadium to watch the real Bees knock the fake Bees out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy (come on Barnet!).
Despite not having watched these programmes, one thing is palpable – that there is a real and current desire to push housing to the top of the agenda.
Whatever your thoughts on these shows, they have really made an impact and good on Channel 4 for taking on a subject which others may have thought unfashionable.
The one show which appears to have really jumped into the limelight however is The Great British Property Scandal, which covers empty homes.
There has been much talk on empty homes recently – I have blogged about it a few times in the past – and it’s great to see this being taken seriously elsewhere.
While I agree with Jules who blogs here that focussing on empty homes could skew the public’s perception of an answer to the housing crisis, it is undeniable that having 700,000-odd properties which come under this banner is a national disgrace.
The latest idea to come up from charity Empty Homes is for councils to offer the empty properties they own to prospective buyers and tenants at discounted prices.
This, they argue, on top of increased council tax on long term empty homes should bring many of the thousands of homes across the country come back into proper residential use. Sounds like a winning idea to me.
With the government pledging £150 million toward bringing empty homes back into use and a national broadcaster highlighting the issue, it really feels like there has never been a better time to rid the country of this shame.
From Can we fix it?
Alex Wellman takes a look at what’s going on in the social housing contracting sector