Communities Minister Andrew Stunell today launched two new online toolkits to help local councils and communities better identify the empty homes in their area and bring them back into use.
The launch is part of a week of intensive action by the Minister, to step up work across the country to tackle the ‘scandal’ of the country’s 300,000 empty homes, which if occupied by average sized families would give around 700,000 more people a home of their own.
The Geographical Information System (GIS) Empty Homes Mapping Toolkit, which plots the location of long term empty homes in private ownership across the country, has been developed to allow councils to pinpoint empty homes ‘hot spots’ in their area, and work with the landlords and local community to bring the derelict properties back into use.
The Empty Homes Knowledge Toolkit will be a new ‘one-stop shop’, giving local authorities, housing associations, empty property owners, landlords and the wider community access to everything they need to know about bringing properties back into use, including the legislative frameworks, partnership building and investment mechanisms.
Communities Minister, Andrew Stunell said:
Long term empty properties easily fall into disrepair, attracting squatters, vandalism and anti-social behaviour, bringing down the neighbourhood and causing misery for neighbours.
Local communities hold the keys to bringing these empty homes back into use and I hope these new toolkits encourage councils to work with them and the landlords to end the scandal of empty homes.
They will sit alongside the new £100 million fund we have announced for refurbishing properties, and our commitment to match the council tax raised for every empty property brought back into use for six years. Together these are powerful incentives to encourage local areas to bring more properties back into use, and create new homes for thousands of families.
The mapping toolkit will also include information on the surroundings of empty homes, such as levels of housing needs, numbers of households in temporary accommodation, housing stock by tenure, households on waiting lists, local housing allowance levels, crime, arson, antisocial behaviour data and data on local socio-economic indices - allowing councils to prioritise areas in need of attention.
Both toolkits can be found on the Homes and Communities Agency website: www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/empty-homes-toolkit?page_id=&page=1 (external link).
The knowledge toolkit is available to everyone, and the online mapping toolkit to all local authority and central government partners who are covered by the Public Sector mapping Agreement.
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