Thousands of houses stand empty across Birmingham, while Council targets green belt to build new homes
16th March 2014
A Homes From Empty Homes Report 2013 has revealed an eye watering 9,239 houses are standing empty across Birmingham, while 3,759 are categorised as ‘long term empty’.
The findings are quite demanding considering Birmingham City Council reported in July 2013 approximately 33,000 households were waiting for social housing.
Birmingham’s performance is best judged against one of its peers such as London, a city with higher levels of population growth and significant inward migration. Birmingham has 2.21% of homes empty (0.90% long term empty) compared to London which has 1.76% of homes empty (0.71% long term empty).
So why so many properties empty?
Some are empty because the owners have died or are in residential care homes, hospital or a hospice. Councils can offer advice and provide support to families to help them resolve their personal situations and bring homes back into use.
In other cases, empty houses have been purchased for rent and have fallen into disrepair; sometimes the owner has inherited the property. In many cases the owner lacks the funds or the skills to repair and manage the property.
There are also many empty houses and flats owned by and often located next to businesses. Many of these would originally have provided staff accommodation, but with changing employment patterns they are no longer used.
All sounds simple?
Surprisingly, the Birmingham Development Plan 2031 includes 1,000 empty homes conversations in the first 5 years only.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has also set aside £2.2 billion for the New Homes Bonus, between 2011 and 2015.
The bonus is a grant paid by central government to local councils for increasing the number of homes and their use and paid each year for 6 years. It’s based on the amount of extra Council Tax revenue raised for new-build homes, conversions and long-term empty homes brought back into use. An additional premium of £2,100 is payable for each additional affordable home provided. So the scheme should be self-funding.
So a lot more can be achieved by the Council to provide new homes by bringing empty properties back to life and remove the unnecessary pressure being placed to build 6,000 new houses on the Sutton Coldfield green belt.
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