Extra £160m funding to refurbish empty homes
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by Gill Montia
The Government has launched a £160 million funding package aimed at bringing thousands of empty homes back into use across England.
Communities minister, Don Foster, says he wants to “stop the rot” that empty homes can bring to blighted neighbourhoods.
Latest figures show the number of empty homes dropped from 300,000 in 2009 to 259,000 in 2012 and under the latest scheme 5,000 empty, and in some cases derelict, properties could be refurbished and put back on the market over the next three years.
Councils have also been awarded greater powers to tackle empty homes locally including:
Allowing councils to charge up to 150% of the normal Council Tax rate on owners of the most problematic neglected homes, from April 2013.
Applying the “New Homes Bonus” to empty homes, with government matching Council Tax proceeds from newly inhabited properties pound for pound, doubling councils’ revenue from such homes.
In the most severe cases, enabling councils to take over the most problematic neglected homes through the use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders.
Mr Foster comments: “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.”
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