Liverpool City Council's Cabinet Committee is to consider a major expansion of the "Homes For A Pound" scheme at its meeting on April 2nd, to be dubbed "Homes For A Pound Plus".
Over the last few months, at meetings or via the website, EHN members have been alerted to the possible risks to New Homes Bonus implied by the government's desire to introduce a "development benefit" that would offer financial rewards to people living near new housing developments.
There have been a fair few stories over the last two or three weeks about significant numbers of empty homes in Durham mining villages near Easington which demonstrate that the issues associated with "low demand" - and the search for solutions - are still very much alive.
In the news stories it is Horden in particular which has been singled out, with a claimed 130 empty homes owned by Accent housing association now slated for disposal and reportedly another 130 to follow.
A report commissioned by Canopy Housing Project in Leeds and published early in 2014 shows the benefits that self-help housing can bring to a range of different stakeholders.
Written by Andy Bagley (Real-Improvements consultancy), this is a first-stage, preliminary report on the Social Return on Investment (SROI) provided by Canopy's project to bring empty homes back into use, a project which also draws in volunteers, provides homes, and helps people into training and work.
A recent court High Court ruling clarifies the position regarding the rules around Council Tax Exemption Class "B" and suggests that it will be very easy for charitable housing assocations or other charitable bodies to benefit from the exemption, regardless of the rent charged in most cases.
For the record, Exemption Class "B" reads as follows:
"a dwelling owned by a body established for charitable purposes only, which is unoccupied and has been so for a period of less than 6 months and was last occupied in furtherance of the objects of the charity"
The Scottish government has launched a new £4million fund to help address empty homes and commercial properties in town centres. The funding can be used to bring long-term empty homes back into use or to convert redundant commercial properties into housing. As with the predecessor scheme, the Scottish Empty Homes Loan Fund, the homes produced must be affordable.
There is little detail available about the Town Centre Empty Homes Fund at the moment. The press release states simply that it
[The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not those of the Empty Homes Network]
It's back to the drawing board for the powers that be in Liverpool following Eric Pickles' decision to over-rule his Planning Inspector and refuse the CPO and planning permission that would have allowed the redevelopment of the "Welsh Streets" to go ahead.
The Scottish government has provided a massive boost to the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, both extending the funding for a further 3 years and expanding the available resource by a further 1.5 posts.
Scottish Housing Minister Margaret Burgess announced the move on 23rd December. The story published on the Scottish Goverment website describes the initiative in more detail:
The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) will receive a three year extension backed by an additional £616,500 from the Scottish Government.
We've now set the date for the 2015 National Empty Homes Conference, and the first speakers have already been booked. It will be held in Birmingham on Wednesday, 20th May at Maple House, our third year at this spacious and comfortable venue.
Helen Williams will be appearing to give us vital insight from her perspective as Chief Executive of the Empty Homes Agency; and Andrew Lavender will be offering his invaluable surgeries.
Time flies and the EHCGP comes to an end on March 31st.. As part of our efforts to make the case for more some more funding, self-help-housing.org and HACT are running two events in February , looking at what has been achieved through the DCLG’s £50m Empty Homes Community Grants Programme. One will be in London looking at the national picture, while the other will take place in Hull and will concentrate on what’s been achieved in Yorks. & Humberside and the North East and on the recent research that is ongoing.