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KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-newssince 2002
28th January 2021


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I’d had no idea that this week is ‘National Empty Homes Week 2015’ - which is a shame, as this industry is one that will in most cases be needed to bring empty homes back to a habitable standard and I daresay that you may have been involved in terms of supplying furniture, fixtures, fittings and appliances, or possibly the design expertise or labour to bring projects to completion. If you are or have been involved, I’d love to hear from you.

This September, ‘Empty Homes’ launched its report ‘Empty Homes in England’ with its latest analysis based on Government data which shows over 200,000 long-term vacant dwellings (that is homes unoccupied for over six months) in England and over 600,000 total empty homes. This waste of potential housing is despite the last Government introducing, in 2011, dedicated empty homes programmes to support housing providers and community organisations to create affordable homes from empty properties.

These programmes enabled housing providers and community organisations to buy or lease long-term empty properties and renovate and repair them so that they could be brought back into use as affordable housing.

Apparently by the end of March 2015, this funding enabled local groups to create almost 6,000 new homes from empty property – providing apprenticeship and training opportunities as well as more homes and better neighbourhoods for local people.

The programmes ended in March and Empty Homes is asking the new Government to invest in bringing empty homes back into use through new dedicated funding streams. It is also calling on it to further reduce the rate of VAT charged on works needed to bring empty homes up to habitable standards. This is currently charged at 5% for homes that have been empty for two years or more.

Bearing in mind the housing crisis we’re now experiencing, with cash-strapped councils facing escalating costs to place growing numbers of homeless families in hotels and bed & breakfast facilities, one would think that with the huge stock of empty properties available, it would make sense for the Government to reduce VAT more than it has, wouldn’t it?

If properties are empty because refurbishment costs are prohibitive, lowering VAT – even just for local authority and charity developers, will help solve the housing crisis and will eventually boost the economy.

Well it makes sense to me, anyway!



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Jan Hobbs



4th December 2015

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