The provisional New Homes Bonus figures released towards the end of December 2017 show the number of long-term empties increasing, bringing to an end the series of year-on-year reductions that had lasted since the NHB was first introduced.
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The Liberal Democrats have launched a campaign at local level to encourage councils to do more about empty homes - whilst criticizing local authorities for insufficient action to date.
Empty Home Premium would become chargeable at 200% of Full Charge! So said Fiscal Phil Hammond. If you've been busy calculating the increased revenue your Council may earn next year, hold your horses. As the change will require a change to primary legislation, the 200% charge might not be lawful until 1st April 2019. So don't count on any extra revenue in 2018.
Are you confident that you actually know how NHB was calculated for 2016/17. I must admit, I am a little lost and therefore quite ashamed.
In a speech to the first Community-Led Housing Conference, Alok Sharma MP praised the sector and announced a new programme of financial support.
£60million has already been given to local authorities with high levels of second home ownership. The minister has now offered a further £60million to help fund further development 'for the first year alone', implying an ongoing programme. This accords with the announcement for the original £60million, which was presented as a 'hypothecation' from the additional revenue being raised by the 3% SDLT surcharge on purchases of second homes.
This shows great promise as far as future reporting of the empty homes issue is concerned, given the evident attention to detail shown in the data series and the clear intention to produce more meaningful statistics by intelligently correlating the raw government data on empties with other variables such as population.
Most practitioners will by now be aware that the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has decided to allow local authorities in England to increase the Empty Homes Premium to 100%, bringing the maximum rate in line with Wales and Scotland. Better late than never: this is a welcome move.
The recently published report by the Independent Task Force into the Grenfell fire recovery makes frustrating reading. Leaving aside the detail, the bigger picture is one where the Grenfell survivors are caught in the middle of an experiment to reconstruct on the fly a local authority which all concerned agree failed abjectly in its initial response to the tragedy.
One of the few positives to emerge from the National Audit Office's investigation into New Homes Bonus - other than its acknowledged stimulus to local authority efforts to bring empty homes back into use - was that it was easy to understand.
Cornwall Council offers a range of advice and assistance to help bring long-term empty properties back into use. Its Empty Property Loan scheme has loaned more than £2 million to directly enable over 100 residential units.
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North East Derbyshire District Council are celebrating Empty Homes week by holding an event for owners of empty properties across the District. The event has been jointly organised between the Council and Action Housing - who are a Social Housing provider - and has been designed to promote their 'Sustainable Tenancy Project' which aims to provide housing for young people aged 18-24 who have support needs.
Building on the interim findings of the current Property Guardian Research project, Professor Caroline Hunter and Jed Meers at York Law School have compiled a draft ‘Local Authority Pocket Guide to Property Guardians.’
They intend the guide to provide a 101 grounding in the phenomenon and address some of the key issues, particularly: the lease/licence distinction, the application of controls and standards under the Housing Act 2004, and statutory nuisances under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
EHN members will be pleased to hear that Chris Skinner has been honoured by our local Law Society. There was a spontaneous standing ovation at the awards ceremony whilst Chris’ children went up on stage to receive the award on his behalf.
The press announcement is reproduced below:
Local government lawyer Chris Skinner has been posthumously awarded for his outstanding contribution to the legal profession in Norfolk by the Norwich and Norfolk Law Society.
A letter has gone out to Chief Executives and Leaders of local authorities from Helen Williams of the charity Empty Home, announcing Empty Homes Week 2017. We're sure our members will be pulling out the stops to make the week a successful one.
The full text of the letter is reproduced below:
I have just posted a discussion draft of a document that may be submitted to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and that explores the relevance - or potential relevance - of empty homes for the disaster.
Given media reports of Grenfell survivors continuing to live in hotels, the frequent references to empty homes in Kensington and Chelsea, and the headlines when senior Labour politicians proposed requisitioning empty homes to meet the survivors' immediate housing needs, some kind of formal input from the Network seems essential.
Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor, has written to the government requesting powers to levy higher council tax on empty high-value homes. The press release does not state what level of tax should be charged but says it should be set
'at a meaningful rate that would incentivise occupation, or at the very least generate a more substantial receipt that could support investment in new affordable homes and other measures to tackle the housing crisis.'
A new edition of the Empty Homes Agency analysis of empty homes figures has been published, reporting figures mainly derived from the 2016 CTB returns.
The report shows the headline figures for long-term vacants based on those returns to be more or less stable around the 200,000 mark.
This was a new category in our Empty Homes Awards and it produced more entries than we have ever had, in any category.
Sponsorship from Cromwood Social
We also had a new sponsor, in the shape of London social housing provider Cromwood Social thanks in part to the advocacy of Abdus Saleh, their Head of Investment and Development, who has had a long-time involvement with empty homes issues as an enabler.
Contributing to the Conference Brochure, the organisation wrote: