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Government earmarks cash for empty homes and community planning

The government is to offer communities incentives for empty homes brought back into use, communities minister Andrew Stunell announced yesterday.

Central government has pledged to match the council tax receipts on every empty home that is reoccupied, in a bid to solve the housing crisis and crack down on the anti-social behaviour problems associated with vacant property.

Mr Stunell urged communities to work with their local council to identify where empty homes are blighting the neighbourhood, and start benefiting from extra cash that can be used to improve the local area.

There are around 300,000 long term empty properties across England.

The funding is one of two new measures designed to deal with empty homes, and will supplement the £100 million already announced as part of the Spending Review for Housing Associations to bring empty properties back into use.

Communities minister Andrew Stunell said:  “Long-term empty properties easily fall into disrepair, and attract the squatters, vandalism and anti-social behaviour that bring down our local neighbourhoods. With as many as 300,000 long-term empty properties across the UK this precious resource is being squandered.

“Empty properties should instead be treated as an asset and brought back into use for those families that need somewhere to live.

“That’s why we’re giving local councils powerful new incentives to tackle the problem. The coalition government is pledging to match the council tax raised for every property brought back into use to help these properties become homes for thousands of families in need.

“It’s vital that local communities, councils and owners of empty properties work together to bring properties back into use and begin to tackle this problem that is blighting our local communities.”

The announcement came on the same day a new funding pot to help community organisations engage with the planning system was unveiled.

The £3m Supporting Communities and Neighbourhoods in Planning funding will be made available from 1 April 2011 and will provide help and guidance to groups looking to tackle the complex planning system, as part of the new drive for localism.

Details of the initiative can be found here.

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