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Calls to requisition luxury flats for Grenfell survivors

The fire at Grenfell House in Kensington and Chelsea has brought empty homes into the headlines, following Jeremy Corbyn’s  call for  unoccupied luxury flats in the borough to be requisitioned to ensure that survivors of the disaster can be housed locally.

When launching his proposal on 15th June, Corbyn explicitly situated it in the context of the supposed buy-to-leave phenomenon (which Corbyn inaccurately referred to as ‘land-banking’). He was reported to have said:

It can’t be acceptable that in London we have luxury buildings and luxury flats left empty as land banking for the future while the homeless and the poor look for somewhere to live. We have to address these issues.[1]

Alok Sharma appointed Housing and Planning Minister

Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, has been appointed Minister of State for Housing and Planning at the Department of Communities and Local Government.

His predecessor, Gavin Barwell, lost his seat in the June 2017 General Election. Sharma's own majority was reduced from over 6,000 to 2,876.

Sharma is an accountant and most of his working life has been in finance-related fields. He was a strong remainer during the Remain/Leave referendum campaign, taking on a directorship of UK Indians for Remaining in Europe Ltd. He has recently served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and been a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee and the Treasury Select Committee. He is not known to have any particular policy positions on housing issues.

According to theyworkforyou.com , his voting record since first being elected in 2010 has followed government policy in most cases, and certainly on housing and housing-related issues. He has voted:

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Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year 2017 - results

This is our longest-running awards category and it always attracts high quality submissions, making the choice of winners difficult.

This year, the award was sponsored and judged by Kent’s No Use Empty team, who certainly are well-equipped with all the necessary experience needed to evaluate the entries.

In the event, they selected one outright winner, and also gave a ‘highly commended’ award. The awards were presented at the Empty Homes Conference in Bimringham by Steve Grimshaw, Programme Manager, Kent County Council.

2017 Conference reaches new heights

Delegates to the 2017 Empty Homes Conference, held in Birmingham last week, gave it an average rating of 4.73 out of 5, making it the highest-scoring such event held to date.

A strong line-up of speakers was undoubtedly a big factor. Among the most popular sessions was that presented by Kerry Morgan-Gould (pictured right) and Vicki Green, of Ashfords Solicitors, about dealing with dificult Probate cases. But that was just one example from among many.

Conference salutes Chris Skinner

A very successful and well-attended Empty Homes Conference on Wednesday in Birmingham contained one poignant moment, when the delegates showed their appreciation for Chris Skinner, who sadly died in February, by offering a collective salute.

Chris  was well-known for his work as a solicitor supporting Empty Homes practitioners up and down the country over many years, particularly in the area of Compulsory Purchase.  He had also spoken at two previous conferences.

Cromwood Social sponsors Before-and-After Photo Award

Cromwood Social has stepped in to sponsor the Empty Homes Award for Best Before-and-After Photo, which is a new award category this year. Details of the Award Category can be found in our news story here.

We were contacted yesterday by Cromwood's Abdus Saleh with the offer of sponsorship, which we were happy to accept. Cromwood Social is also going to provide Silver Supporter sponsorship.

Put empty homes officer in every council, says Shelter Scotland

Shelter Scotland has issued a Local Government Manifesto for Homes - part of their  'Homelessness - Far from Fixedcampaign - which calls for every local authority to employ a dedicated Empty Homes Officer.

The manifesto is aimed at the local government elections and is part of a campaign to get candidates to sign up to four commitments.

Commitment 1, 'Deliver a home for everyone in Scotland', includes 3 action points:

Two more empty homes award categories announced - submissions please

 

 

We are looking for submissions for two more categories in the Empty Homes Awards 2017.  These are new categories which are being sponsored by the Empty Homes Network itself this year.

 

 

Best before-and-after photos

This Award is now being sponsored by Cromwood Social which is a part of the Cromwood Group.

Scottish Conservatives pledge further action on empties

Whilst the Conservative goverment at Westminster removed empty homes from the policy landscape in the wake of the 2015 General Election (following the complete absence of the issue from the Tory election manifesto) the issue is alive and kicking amongst Scottish Conservatives. Partly no doubt thanks to Shelter Scotland's successful Empty Homes Partnership, there seems to be a a broad-based, cross-party consensus about the need for central (in this case, Scottish) government to play its part.

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