The government should reinstate dedicated funding to support councils in bringing empty homes back into use, according to a campaigning charity
The Empty Homes Agency said that by investing £450 million, an additional 20,000 affordable homes could be created from abandoned houses by 2020 - effectively £22,500 per home.
In a report released yesterday, the agency said: ‘Central Government should re-establish dedicated grant funding programmes to support local authorities, housing associations and community organisations to bring empty homes back into use as affordable housing across England.’
Government funding for empty homes grant programmes, including the Cluster of Empty Homes Programme, came to an end in March 2015.
The EHA also said that the government should re-establish dedicated support for local authorities in areas with high concentrations of empty properties to bring about neighbourhood regeneration.
The agency also released an analysis of government figures showing a drop in the number of long term empty properties, falling to 205,821 from a peak of 326,954 in 2008.
3.4% - percentage of empty homes in North West
The charity attributed the fall in the number of vacant homes to government intervention along with the improvement in the economy.
However the charity revealed that the problem of empty homes remained worse in areas of the country with the lowest property prices.
Areas in the top fifth of house prices have just 0.6 per cent of properties empty for six months or more, compared to 1.23 per cent in the lowest value fifth.
The North West is the region with the highest proportion of long term empties at 3.43 per cent, while London has the lowest proportion, at 1.63 per cent.
Steve Turner, head of communications at the Home Builders Federation
‘We face an acute housing crisis and need to look at a broad range of actions to address it. Bringing new homes back can play a part, though ultimately the main solution is to develop policies that ensure we are consistently building enough homes to adequately meet housing need.’
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation
‘Providing dedicated support for local authorities in areas of high concentrations of empty properties is a good idea, and we believe that devolving tools for growth to a local level could help areas to unlock regeneration. We need to take stock of the bigger picture when considering vacant homes however, and the most important thing is to make sure that there is sufficient infrastructure in place, as well as employment opportunities, to ensure that people want to live in these homes.’