Government launches empty homes toolkits
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by Gill Montia
The Government has this week launched two online toolkits to help local councils and communities identify empty homes in their area and bring them back into use.
The Geographical Information System Empty Homes Mapping Toolkit plots the location of long-term empty homes and should allow councils to pinpoint empty homes “hot spots”.
It includes information on the surroundings of empty homes, such as levels of housing needs, numbers of households in temporary accommodation, housing stock by tenure, antisocial behaviour data and data on local socio-economic indices – allowing councils to prioritise areas in need of attention.
Also launched this week, the Empty Homes Knowledge Toolkit provides a “one-stop shop” for local authorities, housing associations, owners of empty property, landlords and the wider community to access information about bringing properties back into use, including legislative frameworks, partnership building and investment mechanisms.
Communities Minister, Andrew Stunell, comments: “Long term empty properties easily fall into disrepair, attracting squatters, vandalism and anti-social behaviour, bringing down the neighbourhood and causing misery for neighbours.”
He adds: “Local communities hold the keys to bringing these empty homes back into use and I hope these new toolkits encourage councils to work with them and the landlords to end the scandal of empty homes.”
The Government has recently established a £100 million fund for empty property refurbishment and promises to match the council tax raised for every empty property brought back into use, for six years.
Both toolkits can be found on the Homes and Communities Agency website; the knowledge toolkit is available to everyone, and the online mapping toolkit to all local authority and central government partners who are covered by the Public Sector mapping Agreement.
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