Mr Stunell joined construction workers from B4Box - a Salford-based social enterprise and building company - at a former empty terraced home currently being renovated in the city.
Tackling the blight of the country’s 700,000 empty homes and bringing more vacant properties back into use is one of the key pledges made in the government’s Housing Strategy unveiled last week.
On the visit, Mr Stunell announced details of how councils and communities can bid for the £100 million Empty Homes Fund designed to bring more than 3,300 homes back into use as affordable housing, and confirmed the allocation of nearly £3 million this year to 18 organisations to enable them to get to work straight away. A new separate £50 million fund will also be available to bring the worst and largest concentrations of empty homes back into use.
B4Box is helping to regenerate local communities across the region by providing apprenticeships through bringing empty homes back into use. All the work carried out on this project has been undertaken by a local workforce drawn from within a three mile radius of the property and all employees have had training opportunities and learnt new skills. Work on the house is nearly complete and once finished will be marketed for sale by Salford Council to key workers.
Communities Minster Andrew Stunell said:
700,000 homes standing empty across the country is a national scandal that the government is determined to fix. Instead of letting these homes fester in our neighbourhoods whilst millions are desperate for homes, we’re giving councils, housing associations and community groups access to the cash they need to do something about it.
The Empty Homes Agency’s ‘National Week of Action on Empty Homes’ which aims to identify and raise awareness of the problems with empty homes takes place between Monday 5 to Friday 7 December 2011.