The provisional New Homes Bonus figures released towards the end of December 2017 show the number of long-term empties increasing, bringing to an end the series of year-on-year reductions that had lasted since the NHB was first introduced.
The Liberal Democrats have launched a campaign at local level to encourage councils to do more about empty homes - whilst criticizing local authorities for insufficient action to date.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the few positives to emerge from the National Audit Office's investigation into New Homes Bonus - other than its acknowledged stimulus to local authority efforts to bring empty homes back into use - was that it was easy to understand.
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.