by Mark Johnston
£91 Million Set Aside to Bring 6,000 Homes Back into Use.
The severe shortage of homes in Britain is a crisis decades in the making. It seems that for decades Britain has severely under built and therefore the economic and social consequences of this failure have affected millions.
Empty homes in England currently accounts for 3 per cent of the total housing stock.
Data has previously revealed that the number of long term empty homes, defined as those that have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for over six months, also fell, from 299,999 in 2010 to 278,494 in 2011.
Many industry experts have described the number of empty homes in England as ‘a national disgrace’, adding: ‘For every two families that need a home there is one standing empty.
Housing and homelessness charity Shelter have warned that many people face a wait of more than a decade before they can get on the property ladder because of the shortage of affordable homes.
Therefore bringing empty homes back in to use is a priority for the Coalition Government.
The new Housing Minister, Mark Prisk, said “Increasing the housing supply, especially of affordable homes, also has an important economic purpose… Building affordable homes, when you look at the bare statistics, is a great economic multiplier”.
So, the Communities and Local Government department have recently announced that towns across England will benefit from £91 million to refurbish and bring back in to use over 6,000 empty and derelict homes and commercial premises, particularly in the Midlands and North.
Two thirds of this funding will go to registered social landlords and community and voluntary groups who will then hopefully bring around 3,200 homes back into use.
The funding will be spent on refurbishment in areas where empty properties have commonly led to problems such as squatting, rat infestation and collapsing house prices, driving remaining residents away.
“This will bring people, shops and jobs back to once abandoned areas, and provide extra affordable homes we so badly need”, said Don Foster, communities minister.
It appears that thanks to the empty homes fund in some parts of the country you can pick up a house for less than the price of a cup of tea, courtesy of a string of regeneration schemes aimed at injecting new life into run down areas.
During the past few months the city councils in Stoke on Trent have been inundated with applications after launching a project allowing people to buy 35 derelict homes for just £1 upfront.
The council will sell the homes for just £1 apiece and initially cover the cost of refurbishing them, estimated at £30,000 per property. The work will be done by the council, with the new owner able to choose the type of kitchen and bathroom they want.
However, this scheme is open only to non-property owning Stoke on Trent residents who agree that the house will be their “main and principle home” for at least five years. The new owner will have to pay back the cost of the work over the next 10 years, with interest on top. If the house is sold within 10 years, the owner must also hand over a share of any financial gain.
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