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Alok Sharma supports community-led housing sector with £60million

In a speech to the first Community-Led Housing Conference, Alok Sharma MP praised the sector and announced a new programme of financial support.

£60million has already been given to local authorities with high levels of second home ownership. The minister has now offered a further £60million to help fund further development 'for the first year alone', implying an ongoing programme. This accords with the announcement for the original £60million, which was presented as a 'hypothecation' from the additional revenue being raised by the 3% SDLT surcharge on purchases of second homes.

The $64,000 question is whether the bidding criteria will allow the money to be spent on bringing empty homes back into use, as the community-led groups did so impressively as part of the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme over 2012-15.

For details of Alok Sharma's speech to the Conference refer to the DCLG website here.

BBC Shared Data Unit provides major new empty homes data resource

The BBCs newly launched Shared Data Unit has already produced a major new data resource for empty homes.[1]

This shows great promise as far as future reporting of the empty homes issue is concerned, given the evident attention to detail shown in the data series and the clear intention to produce more meaningful statistics by intelligently correlating the raw government data on empties with other variables such as population.

Data is reported for seven years by individual local authority and also at higher levels of aggregation such as Scotland/England/Wales and shire counties. Percentage changes across the period covered by the data and rankings are also reported.

Empty Homes Premium to double in England

EDITORIAL

Most practitioners will by now be aware that the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has decided to allow local authorities in England to increase the Empty Homes Premium to 100%, bringing the maximum rate in line with Wales and Scotland. Better late than never: this is a welcome move.

Giving back

The amounts of money that the Empty Homes Premium can bring in are significant, and an emerging Empty Homes Network policy is that if local authorities are charging this premium they also have an obligation to re-invest some of the revenue raised into their local empty homes initiative. Otherwise, the possibility exists that some local authorities might respond to the EHP option as a perverse incentive, enjoying the additional revenue generated by long-term empties rather than doing anything to address the waste of housing that the empties represent. 

Hypothecation along the lines being suggested here is normally resisted by both local authorities and central government, but that should not deter us from arguing for it, The average citizen would probably understand and support the thinking behind it.

OTHER STORIES

Autumn Budget - New Homes Bonus News

Empty Home Premium would become chargeable at 200% of Full Charge! So said Fiscal Phil Hammond. If you've been busy calculating the increased revenue your Council may earn next year, hold your horses. As the change will require a change to primary legislation, the 200% charge might not be lawful until 1st April 2019. So don't count on any extra revenue in 2018.

Are you confident that you actually know how NHB was calculated for 2016/17. I must admit, I am a little lost and therefore quite ashamed.  

 

From Taskforce to task farce

EDITORIAL

The recently published report by the Independent Task Force into the Grenfell fire recovery makes frustrating reading. Leaving aside the detail, the bigger picture is one where the Grenfell survivors are caught in the middle of an experiment to reconstruct on the fly a local authority which all concerned agree failed abjectly in its initial response to the tragedy. 

Bolsover District Council Celebrate Empty Homes Week

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North East Derbyshire District Council Celebrate Empty Homes Week

North East Derbyshire District Council are celebrating Empty Homes week by holding an event for owners of empty properties across the District. The event has been jointly organised between the Council and Action Housing - who are a Social Housing provider - and has been designed to promote their 'Sustainable Tenancy Project' which aims to provide housing for young people aged 18-24 who have support needs.

Property Guardian Pocket Guide - 1st draft published by University of York

Building on the interim findings of the current Property Guardian Research project, Professor Caroline Hunter and Jed Meers at York Law School have compiled a draft ‘Local Authority Pocket Guide to Property Guardians.’

They intend the guide to provide a 101 grounding in the phenomenon and address some of the key issues, particularly: the lease/licence distinction, the application of controls and standards under the Housing Act 2004, and statutory nuisances under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Chris Skinner receives posthumous award

EHN members will be pleased to hear that Chris Skinner has been honoured by our local Law Society. There was a spontaneous standing ovation at the awards ceremony whilst Chris’ children went up on stage to receive the award on his behalf.

The press announcement is reproduced below:

Local government lawyer Chris Skinner has been posthumously awarded for his outstanding contribution to the legal profession in Norfolk by the Norwich and Norfolk Law Society.

Empty Homes Week announcement

A letter has gone out to Chief Executives and Leaders of local authorities from Helen Williams of the charity Empty Home, announcing Empty Homes Week 2017.  We're sure our  members will be pulling out the stops to make the week a successful one.

The full text of the letter is reproduced below:

Dear Colleague,

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