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George Clarke appointed government empty homes guru

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Television star and architect George Clarke has been appointed as independent advisor to the government on empty homes

The Channel 4 Restoration Man presenter will help Whitehall bring thousands of derelict homes back into use as part of a £150 million affordable housing programme.

The appointment follows Clarke’s ‘Great Property Scandal’ campaign where he drew attention to the large number of empty homes in the UK.

It claimed 2 million families were stuck on housing waiting lists while 1 million homes stood empty. Around 350,000 homes had been disused for more than six months.

Communities minister Andrew Stunell said: ‘I am delighted that George Clarke has agreed to work with us as we pull out all the stops to end the national scandal of empty homes.

‘For every two families needing a home, there’s a property standing empty - properties that, all too often, attract squatters, vandalism and fly-tipping. That’s why over the past year, I’ve made £150 million available to bring these homes back into use.

‘George’s appointment as our independent adviser on this issue will give these efforts a real boost, and I look forward to seeing how communities benefit from his help and advice, and seeing more families benefiting from a secure, stable home as more empty properties are brought back into use.’

Clarke said: ‘There are hundreds of thousands of empty homes that could and should be saved from the bulldozers and refurbished.

‘I totally support the building of new homes when it’s necessary but not when it’s cheaper and quicker to refurbish empty homes than to build from scratch. It can be kinder to communities and the environment - and it makes sense in these tough economic times.

‘I care passionately about this subject and I’ll leave no stone unturned in my efforts to find a solution to the problem and get these houses back into use for the families who need them.’

Housing minister Grant Shapps added: ‘George Clarke has been a phenomenal campaigner against the scourge of Empty Homes. His popular Great British Property Scandal programme raised the issue up the agenda. I’m pleased to report that the number of empty homes has fallen in the two years since this government came to office. Now we hope to accelerate that work further with £150 million of investment and George Clarke as our Empty Homes Adviser.’

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