Liberal Democrat Communities Minister Andrew Stunell has been laying out details of how the Coalition Government is intending to get more empty homes put to use housing people. As the press release says:
Councils will receive powerful new incentives, with the coalition matching the council tax raised for every empty property brought back into use. Local authorities will be given the freedom to spend this money as they see fit. The government is also investing £100m in a fund for Housing Associations to bring empty homes back into use.
There are around 300,000 empty homes across the UK, and local residents are being encouraged to work with the council to identify where these homes are, so that their local community can start benefitting from the extra cash that can be used to improve their local area.
Andrew Stunell himself said,
Long-term empty properties easily fall into disrepair, and attract squatters, vandalism and anti-social behaviour, bringing down the local neighbourhood.
To start tackling this problem, we are giving councils powerful new incentives to bring homes back into use. We are pledging to match the council tax raised for every empty property brought back into use to help these properties become homes for thousands of families in need.
Local communities hold the keys to bringing these empty homes back into use. I want to encourage them, councils and landlords to work together to end the scandal of empty homes.
The story has got some major, and positive, news coverage – including a very positive piece in The Sun – though the story also exemplifies one of the party’s challenges in opposition, for nowhere does it say “Liberal Democrat”.
(Electoral pop fact: the number of Sun readers who voted Lib Dem in May 2010 was more than the number of Lib Dem voting Guardian and Independent readers put together. That’s because although a far smaller proportion of Sun readers voted Lib Dem than Guardian or Independent readers, there are many more Sun readers than readers of either of those two papers.).