Affordable Housing: Finance

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will re-establish dedicated funding programmes for local authorities and housing providers to create affordable housing from long-term empty homes throughout England.

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will undertake a review of how the legal powers available to local authorities to tackle empty homes and poor standards of management in the private rented sector could be improved.

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will provide support for empty home prevention schemes by offering financial support to owners for sustainability measures and home improvements such as insulation measures designed to increase the longevity and environmental efficiency of existing homes.

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will open funding programmes to tackle empty homes to community-led organisations who are not registered providers; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Department has no current plans to establish funding programmes specifically targeted at renovating or preventing empty homes, nor to carry out a formal review of local authorities' powers in this respect. Local authorities are already equipped with a range of powers and strong incentives to tackle empty homes. Through the New Homes Bonus, they earn the same financial reward for bringing an empty home back into use as for building a new one. Since 1 April 2019, via the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018, local authorities have the discretion to increase the maximum level of premium charged on properties that have been empty for more than two years from 50 per cent to 100 per cent extra council tax. In certain circumstances, local authorities can apply for an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) to temporarily take over the management of a property that has been empty for more than two years and bring it back into use.

The number of long-term empty homes remains substantially lower than when records began. In October 2010, 299,999 homes in England had been standing empty for longer than 6 months; as of October 2018, there were 216,186 long-term empty properties. We do not have plans to make a further statement to the House on the issue at present.

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