Online tools to 'end the scandal of empty homes'
Squatters-dream map only available to councils
The Communities and Local Government (CLG) department has launched two new online toolkits to help tackle the problem of empty homes in England.
It has introduced a geographical information system (GIS) empty homes mapping toolkit, which plots the location of long term empty homes in private ownership across the country. This allows councils to pinpoint empty homes hotspots in their area and work with landlords and the local community to bring derelict properties back into use. The system allows users to overlay maps with other information such as levels of housing need.
CLG has also launched the empty homes knowledge toolkit, which is described by CLG as a "one-stop-shop" that gives local authorities, housing associations and other stakeholders access to everything they need to know about bringing properties back into use. This includes legislative frameworks, partnership building and investment mechanisms.
There are an estimated 300,000 empty homes in England, which the department believes could house around 700,000 people.
Communities minister Andrew Stunell said: "Local communities hold the keys to bringing these empty homes back into use and I hope these new toolkits encourage councils to work with them and the landlords to end the scandal of empty homes.
"They will sit alongside the new £100m fund we have announced for refurbishing properties, and our commitment to match the council tax raised for every empty property brought back into use for six years. Together these are powerful incentives to encourage local areas to bring more properties back into use, and create new homes for thousands of families."
The knowledge toolkit is available to everyone, but the online mapping toolkit is only available to organisations that are covered by the Public Sector Mapping Agreement.
This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.
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"£100m fund we have announced for refurbishing properties..."
Of which a tidy %age will return unto the fold in VAT.
Now, if refurb / rebuild were zero rated like new build, there might be a bit of incentive for property owners to pull their fingers out.
As things stand, refurbing an existing building hits you with the VAT, the additional heating / lighting / whatever costs associated with older stock vs. new build, the costs of modifying it to comply with the various regulations introduced since it was built and the elephant in the room, the high likelyhood of some eco-loon initiative hitting the result with some sort of CO2 tax for "less efficient" buildings.
As a result the smart move, if you own a rundown property, is to let the thing fall into dereliction so you can flog the land for new build. This is also compounded by the variety of incentives offered for new build on "brownfield" sites.
Yes it's insane. It's government thinking, what did you expect?
@All part of filling the planet up!
Err, you didn't quite grasp this did you.
If they use these houses, then there is less need to build new ones...
That's the point of article passing you by
At the risk of sounding like the solution is yet another tax...
...why not simply make the council tax 20% of the property value, each year, for unoccupied houses? They will then either be rented out or occupied, and only the obscenely rich will be able to brag that they have empty houses waiting to be broken into by party-loving squatters.
Land is at a premium - wastage should be discouraged as strongly as possible - and a 20% tax on the property value - every year - will discourage even the filthy rich from leaving their houses empty for longer than strictly necessary. The best thing is that it works equally well for multi-million pound mansions as it does for shoeboxes in Sheffield.