Local groups offered funds to end empty homes blight

26 Nov 12
Bidding has today opened for a £300m funding pot designed to get empty homes in England back into use.
By Vivienne Russell | 26 November 2012

Bidding has today opened for a £300m funding pot designed to get empty homes in England back into use.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said the money would ensure that 5,000 vacant and often derelict properties would be refurbished and put back on the market over the next three years.

Councils, housing associations, regeneration groups, and community and voluntary organisations are all being invited to bid for a share of the cash, which is being administered by the Homes & Communities Agency. Groups in the 27 ‘Portas pilot’ towns are being prioritised. These are towns that secured government funds from a high street regeneration drive spearheaded by retail guru Mary Portas and include Stockport, Bedford and Wolverhampton.

Local government minister Don Foster said: ‘Empty homes blight communities, attract crime and rats and deprive people of available housing. What’s worse, this is a vicious circle – one derelict home brings an area down and can lead to more and in places whole communities have been destroyed. I am determined, quite literally, to stop the rot.

‘This extra money will help communities refurbish empty and abandoned homes, bring in new residents, provide desperately needed extra affordable housing for families and regenerate communities.’

Homes & Communities Agency chief executive Pat Ritchie said that tackling empty homes was a ‘priority’ for her organisation.

She said: ‘We will be working with our local partners to help meet local need and in doing so, support their efforts to tackle homelessness and regenerate neighbourhoods that are suffering from the blight of empty homes and help to prevent neighbourhood decline.’

From April next year, councils will be able to charge 150% council tax on the most problematic neglected homes, while Empty Dwelling Management Orders will allow councils to take over the property in the most severe cases.


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