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Fraudsters targetting empty homes warns Fraud Intelligence Bureau

An alert has been issued by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau's Proactive Intelligence Team highlighted the issue of fraud associated with empty homes where owners have died.  Criminal gangs are referring to obituaries and then carrying out careful research to identify homes that they might be able to raise loan finance against.  The exact mechanisms are not explained, for obvious reasons.

Empty Properties Transformed in Bolsover

Empty properties set to be transformed 

Three properties in Carr Vale near Bolsover are set to be brought back into use thanks to a partnership between the landlord, Bolsover District Council and Action Housing.

The properties, which are located on Main Street, have been empty for over a year, but with the agreement of the landlord, they have been passed to Action Housing on a 14 year lease that will see them transformed into 6 affordable dwellings.

NHB: Analysis of 2017-18 figures

We have analysed the provisional NHB allocations for 2017-18 to try and gauge the impact of the changes in the NHB regime. To do this we have combined the provisional allocations table with more detailed data extracted from the current year's NHB calculator.  The results are contained in an analysis that you can find in our Information Library here. This is for Full Members only so you will need to be logged in to access it.

The key things to remember when getting to grips with the figures are:

NHB: the poor get poorer

The government has announced the results of its consultation into the New Homes Bonus - and it means that a number of authorities will no longer receive NHB at all, particularly those in areas of low demand. In addition, the Bonus will be scaled back from the current 6 years to 4 years.

Key points

The full details can be found via our Information Library, but in summary, the key points in the government's response of relevance to empty homes practitioners are as follows:

State of the Nation 2016 - People

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.

Government should give more to community groups says self-help-housing.org

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

Poll shows strong support for government action on empty homes

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

Flexibility and extra £1.4billion may help empty homes bids

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.

EHN submits evidence to APPG

The Empty Homes Network has now submitted its evidence to the National Housing Taskforce set up by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Planning. The final documents were sent to Lord Richard Best, Chair of the workstream associated with empty homes, Helen Williams, Chief Executive of the Empty Homes Agency, and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, who were providing the secretariat for the workstream.

EHN Empty Homes Survey 2016 on its way

We are about to write to England's 326 housing authorities asking them to complete a simple survey about the staff resources deployed to tackle private sector empties in their area.

We will be emailing the addresses we have for Freedom of Information requests, but initially we will not be presenting this as an FOI request, in order to avoid the associated bureaucracy. We are expecting the FOI addressee to pass the email down to operational levels - so it may come to our members eventually.

Empty Homes Week announcement

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.

Ireland ponders empty homes strategy

The Republic of Ireland's Housing Agency has produced a report that explores the possibility of a national empty homes strategy for the Republic.  The report draws on the experience of strategies and programmes in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, including for example that of Wales, but a strategy for an independent sovereign nation would be a an exciting precedent, where Ireland could well develop an exemplar from which we could all learn.

Over 700 squatters arrested since criminalisation in 2012

According to a recent story on Orbis's website, 700 squatters have been arrested since squatting of residential properties was criminalised in September 2012.

The story claims that 148 arrests were made in 2015, bringing the overall total up to 736 since the provisions of the Act went live.The story notes that many of those charged were also charged with other offences.

Gavin Barwell is new Housing and Planning Minister

Gavin Barwell, M.P. for Croydon Central, is to replace Brandon Lewis as the Minister for Housing and Planning at the Department of Communities and Local Government. He is also to be Minister for London.

Barwell became an M.P. in 2010 and has previously been a junior member of the government, including as Parliamentary Private Secretary for Greg Clark.  Greg Clark has also moved on, to be replaced as Communities Secretary by Savid Javid.

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