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Online tools to 'end the scandal of empty homes'

Squatters-dream map only available to councils

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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.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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