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Empty homes money could make a massive difference in Cumbria

November 28, 2012 11:19 AM

Locally,Tim has been working on projects to bring empty homes back into use such as a property on Mintsfeet Road in KendalSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has welcomed government financial support to try and deal with empty homes in Cumbria. Tim hopes that councils throughout the county will bid for part of the £300m pot. In South Lakeland we have an estimated 1,000 homes currently lying empty.

Latest figures show the number of empty homes dropped from 300,000 in 2009 to 259,000 in 2012, and today's new funding is in addition to the £160 million ministers have already committed to bringing empty homes back into use. The government has also given councils greater powers to tackle empty homes locally including:

  • · Allowing councils to charge up to 150% of the normal Council Tax rate on owners of the most problematic neglected homes from April 2013
  • · Applying the 'New Homes Bonus' to empty homes, with government matching Council Tax proceeds from newly inhabited properties pound for pound, doubling councils' revenue from these.
  • · In the most severe cases, enabling councils to take over the most problematic neglected homes through the use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders. This was successfully used in Kendal recently on a property on Mintsfeet Road.

South Lakeland District Council was recently chosen as one of 12 local authorities to pilot a scheme offering empty home owners home improvement loans.

The Government-backed scheme, called the National Empty Homes Loans Fund, will see loans of up to £15,000 offered to empty home owners to improve them.

Late last year Tim and the National Housing Federation launched a report called Home Truths about the acute housing crisis in South Cumbria and the FurnessPeninsula. The report concluded that nearly 5,000 families in Furness and South Lakeland are on the social housing waiting list.

At the current rate of re-housing, it would take a colossal 66,458 years to clear the backlog of people on housing waiting lists within the county.

Tim said: "Empty homes blight communities, attract crime and deprive people of available housing in our community.This support and funds could help make a massive difference to bring empty homes back into use. Every empty property we can bring back into use will give us a chance to house a local family."