A previous ‘state of the nation’ article reviewed the situation with English local authority empty homes staff, based on a Freedom of Information request sent out by the Network over the Autumn. In today’s article we explore the wider context in which practitioners are operating.
When the Conservative government was elected, somewhat unexpectedly, in May 2015, various empty homes funding programmes had come to an end as of March 2015. In the run-up to March 2015, the Empty Homes Network made representations to DCLG to persuade the then Coalition government to allow underspend to be rolled forwards beyond March 2015. It would be obvious to anyone that knows anything about construction that building development projects can over-run for reasons that are outside the control of the project manager. Thus an absolutely rigid cut-off date meant that organisations could not take the risk of starting grant-funded projects in 2014 unless they were absolutely confident they could complete them by the end of March 2015.