Neighbourhoods suffering the blight of empty homes could benefit from a £100 million boost to bring these properties back into use and provide stable homes for families in need, Communities Minister Andrew Stunell announced.
Seeking expressions of interest for the scheme, the Minister stressed that the funding was to breathe new life into the country’s abandoned streets by bringing back into use clusters of empty homes that can often attract anti-social behaviour, vandalism and fly-tipping to neighbourhoods.
There are more than 700,000 empty homes across the country – with around 280,000 unused and under-maintained for six months or more.
Since the introduction of the New Homes Bonus the number of long term empty homes has been reduced by nearly 38,000 since October 2009, with rewards to local authorities of £64 million as a result.
Mr Stunell offered £50 million Government funding to areas with clusters of empty homes which have good market prospects, such as access to transport links, but require intensive refurbishment to return them to a liveable standard.
Councils who wish to apply will match the funding they receive – bringing the total investment to £100 million. Every successful bid must have strong local support and aim to bring at least 100 homes back into use.
Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said: ‘It’s shocking that hundreds of thousands of houses sit unoccupied while people across the country are in need of a home of their own. Thousands of homes have already been brought back into use in the last year – but there are still many areas where there are whole streets of abandoned homes. That’s why today I’m offering Government cash, backed up by the investment of communities themselves, for a £100 million boost to breathe new life into these areas and providing homes to those in need. I want my ambition to be matched by the communities that apply for this cash injection, with local people backing locally-led efforts to bring at least 100 empty homes in their area back into use. And in addition, these areas will receive further financial recognition for their efforts through the New Homes Bonus.’
The Homes and Communities Agency will be administering the Clusters of Empty Homes Programme.
Councils are rewarded for six years in total. In year two of New Homes Bonus they will receive the second instalment of year one and the first instalment of year two. In year three they will receive the third instalment of year one, second instalment of year two and the first instalment of year three and so on.
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