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Hello, Goodbye, Hello - Kit Malthouse new Housing Minister

Recently-appointed Dominic Raab has been replaced as Minister of State for Housing by Kit Malthouse, now the eigth minister to hold the housing portfolio in 8 years. 

Given the normally short-term nature of such appointments, there seems little point in devoting serious brain-power to anything that might be called 'research' into the latest incumbent of the role. As an alternative, here are some useful links:

Mr. Malthouse was first elected to Parliament in May 2015 and was first appointed to a junior ministerial position in January 2018.

Community Housing Fund launched

The government has launched a £163 million fund to support community-led affordable housing. The scheme is being administered by Homes England (the successor to the Homes and Communities Agency) and bids are invited under a 'continuous market engagement' process that will continue until all the money has been allocated or December 2019, whichever comes first.

Crucially, the Prospectus makes it clear that the scheme is available for conversions and refurbishment:

Conversions and refurbishments
20. In addition to new build homes, the Fund will support activities which will lead to the conversion or refurbishment of existing buildings for housing where there is evidence of need for this form of development.

Phase 1 offers 'seedcorn funding' along with funding for enabling works to unlock sites by developing infrastructure such as access routes. It should be noted that there  is no guarantee that an allocation of seedcorn funding will produce a subsequent allocation of capital.

The following might qualify for the seedcorn funding:

Tracing agent research indicates local authority confusion

A major report published by Anglia Research reveals a considerable amount of uncertainty, inconsistency and questionable practice amongst local authorities using probate researchers (or 'tracing agents'). For empty homes practitioners seeking to use tracing agents to locate missing owners, the report highlights some of the risks involved and the need for due diligence and robust procedures to control those risks. It warrants close reading.

The raw evidence on which the report is based consists of responses to a series of Freedom of Information requests sent to local authorities by solicitor Carolyn Lord, Commercial and Compliance Director at Anglia, . These were originally focused on the use of tracing agents in the context of public health funerals, but later rounds of requests also enquired about local authority use of tracing agents for empty homes

The research involved more than data collection, however: it also drew on the opinions of barristers into the appropriateness, legality, etc of various positions and practices adopted by local authorities.

Kent scoops Regeneration Award

Kent's No Use Empty (NUE) initiative scooped the award for ‘Outstanding approach to regeneration’ at the UK Housing Awards event at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in central London.

The UK Housing Awards, run by Inside Housing and the Chartered Institute of Housing, is the largest and longest running awards in the sector and is now in its third decade.

Steve Grimshaw, NUE Programme Manager and Jackie Gibb, NUE Project Officer were joined by colleagues Stuart White (Dover), Iain Cobby (Folkestone & Hythe),  and Simon Doherty (Gravesham) to collect the award.

For more details of the Awards, visit Inside Housing.

Mark Dance, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, KCC (pictured above) said “An incredible achievement! A huge thank you from me on your win as you know I am a great fan of NUE”.

New EHA report highlights community-based approaches

Empty Homes, the national campaigning charity, has a project to spread community-based regeneration in areas with high levels of empty homes. We are following demonstration projects where community-based organisations are bringing empty homes into use in areas with high levels of empty homes. We want to share their experiences and encourage other organisations to look at how community-based regeneration could work in such neighbourhoods to tackle the underlying causes of empty homes.

Our report, Community-based approaches in areas with high-levels of empty homes,  aims to share the learning from the demonstration projects over the past year. It also makes recommendations about how best to support community-based empty homes work. The report is accessible via the EHN Information Library here.


Resolution Foundation proposes surcharge on empties and second homes

The 23rd report from the Intergenerational Commission, entitled A New Generational Contract, includes surcharges on second and empty homes as part of its 10 main policy recommendations.

Recommendation number 6 reads:

Replace council tax with a progressive property tax with surcharges on second and empty properties; halve stamp duty rates to encourage moving; and offer a time-limited capital gains tax cut to incentivise o of additional properties to sell to rst-time buyers.