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Homes & Communities Agency - Online debate to maximise the use of empty homes

The HCA are running an online debate to explore new ways to help bring more private sector homes back into use.

Affordability issues, exacerbated by the current economic conditions have placed greater emphasis on the need to tackle empty homes. Currently, there are 1.8 million households on the social housing waiting list and over 762,000 empty homes, around half of which have been empty for more than six months.

The debate is running until 30 July to address key challenges that local authorities face tackling empty homes, highlight innovative practice and generate practical solutions to help the sector bring more empty homes back into use. A series of films have been produced to spark debate and provide the latest thinking from industry experts including:

  • Jon Hough – Principal Housing Strategy Officer, Leeds City Council
  • David Ireland – CEO, Empty Homes (EH)
  • Sir Bob Kerslake – CEO, HCA
  • Katharine Hibbert – Ex-squatter and author of Free: Adventures on the Margins of a Wasteful Society
  • Steve Hoey – Co-ordinator, Canopy Housing
  • Andrew Wells – Estate Agent, Allsop
  • Ceri Barraclough – Marketing Sales Executive, Camelot Property

Sir Bob Kerslake, the HCA’s chief executive said:

“To effectively tackle the complex area of empty homes we need sustained action and relevant expertise. We know of success stories in parts of the country so we need to work harder to capture and promote this exemplary practice more widely. The online debate provides a platform for the sector to collectively discuss new and emerging approaches and come up with workable solutions that local authorities up and down the country can adopt.

“The debate will provide the HCA with greater insights into current and emerging challenges faced by local authorities that will be used to inform the further development of our own empty homes activity.”

David Ireland, chief executive of Empty Homes said:

“The number of empty homes is increasing again. In England the total now exceeds three quarters of a million. With greater housing demands and record housing needs there has never been more interest in how empty property can be turned into homes.

“The government has signalled its intention to act with a commitment in the coalition agreement. This debate offers an opportunity for people to say how it should be done.”

Tackling empty homes plays a key role in the HCA’s approach to housing and regeneration. The debate forms part of the Agency’s wider work to bring more empty homes back into use by:

  • Allocating nearly £19m from the National Affordable Housing Programme (NAHP) to bring back into use over 550 empty homes
  • Investing in a year long programme in conjunction with key partners and Empty Homes (EH) to help improve skills among local authorities so they can devise effective empty homes strategies
  • Contributing to bringing empty homes back into use as part of the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder refurbishment programme

To voice your opinion visit Debate Place on Showcase, their case study website.

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