I can’t believe I haven’t updated my blog since 18thOctober, where did the time go? That’s an easy one to answer – I’ve been busy setting up the different schemes for the 3 different sources of funding which we can now offer our empty home owners in South Lakeland, helping write a cabinet report for enforced sales and CPO powers, attending the Empty Homes (Agency) Conference in London last Monday etc etc…!
The long break from my last blog is simply because there have been so many exciting things going on at my work (and a few holidays taken too!). And, as the one and only Empty Homes Officer at our council, I’ve been getting very involved in helping get schemes set up, contacting and following up interest shown by empty home owners.
I am going to dispense with too many convoluted sentences or opinion and get straight to the point. This is really a question of maths.
The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have announced a major housing and planning package that will help deliver:
“Up to 15,000 affordable homes and bring 5,000 empty homes back into use using new capital funding of £300m and the infrastructure guarantee”
I am interested in the 5,000 empty homes element of this.
There is no denying that when I read a good case study about a project that brought one or a number of properties back into use, through positive partnership work and quite often sheer bloody-mindedness, it warms the heart that a community has contributed to and benefited from this.
Yesterday was the first ‘distribution’ day for the Summer issue of our local authority newspaper, South Lakeland News. This time it included an article on the ‘reduced-rate’ of VAT on building works for properties empty over 2 years.
This past couple of months I’ve been thinking about what positive FREE bits of advice I could give to really help my empty home owners, especially since funding is dwindling away…. And I think the major one is still the reduced-rate of VAT or ‘tax incentive’ as I like to call it!
29 May 2012
I thought I’d write about my 2 days in the big city of Birmingham this week. Despite the fact that I live in the countryside, I also love being in a city. I travelled down on Monday night for the annual Empty Homes Network conference on Tuesday. Never been to Birmingham before and enjoyed the walk from Travelodge to “etc venues”/Maple House on Corporation Street. As I was walking and making good time on that warm sunny morning, I stopped en route to have a quick look in Birmingham Cathedral. It was very peaceful – nice stained glass too.
Last week I had a beautiful drive up to Penrith for our quarterly Cumbria Empty Property Group meeting. Sun shining, radio on, I was thinking how many jobs have this wonderful mix of work which can be either office-based or outdoors on visits...
We had a full house at the meeting, representatives from our six local authorities. Our group has been having quarterly meetings for about 2 years, although we skip the February one as the weather can be tricky for driving around our county at that time of year.
It's been an unusual month at work due to sporadic access to my 'read-only' council tax records and my realisation that I really do rely on regular access to this data for my empty homes work.
Like other councils, this reduced access to council tax data is due to the annual billing and the roll-over programme into the new financial year. I'm lucky to have a good relationship with my council tax colleagues. I didn't realise they have to check the bills first, starting with the business rates bills, then the council tax bills. And they have to check all the exemptions as well.
Hi, Last week I was in Glasgow where I had been invited to talk to the Scottish Empty Homes Network on how to set up a Matchmaker Scheme. I was a bunch of nerves beforehand as usual, but they seemed to go once I started talking, and I was asked some good questions afterwards.