In 2009 this magazine’s Empty Promise campaign led calls for social housing organisations to raise their game in tackling the then almost 1 million empty homes in the UK. News that the number of empty homes in England has dropped significantly is, on the face of it, therefore, to be welcomed.
However, if the fall of 32,000 homes to 738,000 is due, in large part, to demolitions rather than homes being brought back into use then this is a shame. As we report this week, in its first year the coalition government has taken steps to encourage social landlords to refurbish empty properties.
More can always be done though and an idea in an upcoming report from think tank Res Publica merits further examination. Empty social homes, or those in a poor state or repair, could be refurbished by members of the public with their own funds in exchange for a share, say a third, in the property. Are you listening Mr Shapps?