Housing shortage should be priority for Government
Housing charities claim the Government should be pressured into selling or letting homes at discounted rates tow tackle the country’s empty homes rate.
The charity Empty Homes, supported by Shelter, is calling on the Government to take action jointly with councils to mark National Empty Homes Week.
Empty Homes’ chief executive, David Ireland, said the housing shortage should be a ‘priority’ for the Government. Around two million families currently require a home and 100,000 more new homes are needed each year.
In a public letter this week, Mr Ireland writes: ‘There are tens of thousands of houses lying empty in areas where big regeneration schemes have failed.
‘These range from entirely empty council estates in London and whole streets of empty housing in cities in the north of England, to individual redundant school caretakers' and park keepers' houses.’
Mr Ireland claims that many ‘empties’ require restorative work and would not make enough profit for developers buying them in current market conditions.
‘The Government grants won't be enough to pay for renovating all of them,’ Mr Ireland said. ‘However, many of them could make fantastic homes for people who are prepared to do some work on them themselves.’
Housing minister Grant Shapps told the BBC that 22,000 homes had been brought back into use this year and there had been a rise in the number of new homes built.
‘I think there is plenty more to be done,’ Mr Shapps conceded. ‘The figures are starting to show a reduction in the number of empty homes, which is great.
‘We have just announced £150m as an empty homes fund, to allow local communities to get some of those homes back into use... so we are starting to make progress.’
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