The Chancellor's Autumn statement offered £1.4billion of additional funding for affordable housing and, importantly, removed the restrictions on tenure which had diverted nearly all the capital budget to home ownership. These changes allow some room for hope that empty homes bids might get funded, although a lack of appetite amongst housing associations and perceived issues around value-for-money may still prove major impediments.
The goverment has published its reponses to the 'Consultation on further reform of the compulsory purchase system' that ended in May of this year.
Importantly, it seems likely to press ahead with the change to the balance of compensation between landlord and occupier.
The original consultation document stated:
The charity Empty Homes has writtent to the Leaders/Mayors of the council-tax-collecting authorities in England announcing Empty Homes Week and requesting them to provide information about their empty homes staff.
The text of the email is given below:
We are writing to suggest ways your local authority can get engaged in Empty Homes Week 2016, and also to update you on our work at Empty Homes-the national campaigning charity.
The Empty Homes Network has drafted its submissions to the National Housing Taskforce, which is an initiative of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Planning. The submissions are now available for comment by our members.
Now the winners' euphoria has subsided, it's time to highlight all the good work reflected in the the results of the 2016 Empty Homes Awards.
The Republic of Ireland's Housing Agency has produced a report that explores the possibility of a national empty homes strategy for the Republic. The report draws on the experience of strategies and programmes in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, including for example that of Wales, but a strategy for an independent sovereign nation would be a an exciting precedent, where Ireland could well develop an exemplar from which we could all learn.
According to a recent story on Orbis's website, 700 squatters have been arrested since squatting of residential properties was criminalised in September 2012.
The story claims that 148 arrests were made in 2015, bringing the overall total up to 736 since the provisions of the Act went live.The story notes that many of those charged were also charged with other offences.
Gavin Barwell, M.P. for Croydon Central, is to replace Brandon Lewis as the Minister for Housing and Planning at the Department of Communities and Local Government. He is also to be Minister for London.
Barwell became an M.P. in 2010 and has previously been a junior member of the government, including as Parliamentary Private Secretary for Greg Clark. Greg Clark has also moved on, to be replaced as Communities Secretary by Savid Javid.
Research funded by the Nationwide Foundation and conducted by a team from Empty Homes [Agency] makes a strong case for delivering affordable housing through conversions of empty commercial spaces.
'Very informative - put me down for next year' was a typical feedback comment from a delegate to the 2016 Empty Homes Conference in Birmingham.
The average number of stars awarded by delegates was 4.53 out of 5, maintaining the level of satisfaction seen in previous years. And despite austerity, the numbers attending were only marginally lower than in 2015.