Right to Challenge proposals by some empty homes officers

Hi- I read on here that there are some empty homes officers preparing to try to take on the empty homes work themselves when the leg kicks in. Please could anyone offer any advice on how they are going about this etc? I know I have spent much time just trying to figure out whats going on in empty homes, and a lot of people are quite a lot in the dark about it too so wondered what extra help and assistance some councils or officers must have been recieving to keep them on top of what lies in the future for empty homes work and the whole process of setting up enterprises or to consider taking on empty homes work themselves, and how they are already working with the some of the vast number of social enterprises that are already quite well established. Please could you offer any advice in case any one else were to also want to consider, and it would be extremetly useful for the rest of us to know how easily we could ourselves be challenged on our empty homes work. Many thanks.

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Hi
When I read this I was left with a slight sense of failure:

"I know I have spent much time just trying to figure out whats going on in empty homes, and a lot of people are quite a lot in the dark about it too so wondered what extra help and assistance some councils or officers must have been recieving to keep them on top of what lies in the future for empty homes work"

Because I see it as my job in particular, on behalf of a very committed Executive, to try and make the Empty Homes Network the vehicle for keeping people in the light not the dark and it seems we are not doing it well enough.
But the answer is really that no one person can do that, the job is just too big.  It comes down to us all helping one another.  By posting your question in the forum you are helping everyone, and I hope that people will reply and that people will continue to share their knowledge and understanding, as they have done increasingly over the last 18 months. 
I will just flag up one initiative that was agreed by the Executive about two years ago but has not been implemented - but which shortly will be.  We are going to institute a "Letter of the Month" type reward whereby people who make particularly valuable contributions on the website will get an Amazon voucher.  Of course we don't want people only to contribute to EHN  because of the money and really I am sure people won't do it just for the money.   But we hope  the additional warm glow that such rewards will bring will nevertheless encourage even greater participation and contribtuion.  We can't afford to be too high-minded when it comes to keeping the Network vibrant.
The offiial announcement will come very soon.  Unfortunately - I won't be eligible!

Dear A Thomas having read your comment it raises the question are you part of a local forum ? I Co chair the West Midlands Empty Property Officer Group and its ethos has always been to work together as a group and help and promote each other .Therefore if your not already and apologies for not knowing which area you cover but Im sure the EHN can put you in touch with the relavant forum you could or should belong to.
This line of work is about sharing ideas and initiatives  and not stumbling around in the dark

sorry i think i phased my wording badly- what i meant was empty homes in the wider context of the governments wider plans and agendas- in particular right to challenge, and that there are groups out there that might be ready to try to take on our work and some dont know how to try to protect their role, or even set up their own enterprise to try to save their job. I didnt mean that i know nothing about empty homes work, i have been doing this work for several years and keep up to date through this site in particular, and events round the country. This post was only regarding Right to Challenge.

Hi Amanda
It was clear to me that you were talking about the "right to challenge" rather than empt y homes work in general.  I know you have a very strong track record on tackling empties.  But perhaps it was my comments that then misled people into thinking there was a general issue around your knowledge, in which case I very sincerely apologise.  The whole point of my post was to encourage more participation in the forums not frighten people off by having their expertise questioned!
Perhaps I can mention to those who don't know Amanda that South Gloucestershire were one of the first districts in the country  (possibly the very first - and still one of the select few) to get a final EDMO.  So S. Glos. are really  "cutting edge" - which is also no doubt why "right to challenge" is in the air.
I was thinking of doing a Briefing on the Localism Bill but I came to the conclusion that we needed to see how it would actually be enacted and also to see the various CLG proposals fleshing out how initiatives like the Right to Challenge might work (I did put a news story up about a House of Lords amendment the other day).   Anyway, other things have had a higher priority than a Briefing on this so I have had to leave it.
Some key points to bear in mind though are:

  • the Council sets the terms of reference for any tendering process - so you would only be able to tender for what the Council thinks needs doing, not what YOU think needs doing
  • you can't "challenge" for a service that doesn't exist!!
  • issues around the willingness or otherwise of other departments to play their part would remain eg use of enforcement powers
  • access to Council Tax data could become harder (though by no means impossible - you would be a "data processor" in Data Protection Act terms.  The problem would be around perception)
  • presumably TUPE would apply - thus a little group of EPOs would find itself having to deal with complexities of that including final salary pension schemes and other terms and conditions

I hope that helps a little bit and that others will chip in with their thoughts.