A previous ‘state of the nation’ article reviewed the situation with English local authority empty homes staff, based on a Freedom of Information request sent out by the Network over the Autumn. In today’s article we explore the wider context in which practitioners are operating.
As the dust starts to settle after Empty Homes Week, it is time to take stock of where the empty homes world has arrived, in the closing months of 2016. To throw some light on the current picture, the Empty Homes Network conducted a survey over the Autumn to find out what staff were employed in addressing the issue of private sector empty homes in each local authority area within England.
Jon Fitzmaurice OBE, Director of self-help-housing.org, has called for a new round of funding for community housing organisations, building on the success of the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme 2012-15.
A press release was issued on Tuesday, 29th November, as part of Empty Homes Week and reads as follows:
Call For Another Empty Homes Community Grants Programme To Bring Empty Properties Back Into Use To Meet Housing Need
The charity Empty Homes has advertised for a new Chair of its Board and for new trustees. The details are available from the Empty Homes website here.
In its letter to candidates for the Chair position, the Charity notes:
Charity Empty Homes has launched Empty Homes Week by announcing the results of a poll that show a strong desire amongst the public for the goverment to do more about the issue of empty homes.
The Press Release reads as follows:
Strong public support for the Government to place a greater priority on tackling empty homes
The Chancellor's Autumn statement offered £1.4billion of additional funding for affordable housing and, importantly, removed the restrictions on tenure which had diverted nearly all the capital budget to home ownership. These changes allow some room for hope that empty homes bids might get funded, although a lack of appetite amongst housing associations and perceived issues around value-for-money may still prove major impediments.
The goverment has published its reponses to the 'Consultation on further reform of the compulsory purchase system' that ended in May of this year.
Importantly, it seems likely to press ahead with the change to the balance of compensation between landlord and occupier.
The original consultation document stated:
The charity Empty Homes has writtent to the Leaders/Mayors of the council-tax-collecting authorities in England announcing Empty Homes Week and requesting them to provide information about their empty homes staff.
The text of the email is given below:
We are writing to suggest ways your local authority can get engaged in Empty Homes Week 2016, and also to update you on our work at Empty Homes-the national campaigning charity.
The Empty Homes Network has drafted its submissions to the National Housing Taskforce, which is an initiative of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Planning. The submissions are now available for comment by our members.
Now the winners' euphoria has subsided, it's time to highlight all the good work reflected in the the results of the 2016 Empty Homes Awards.