Councils return 2,000 empty homes to use
More than 2,000 empty and useless homes have been brought back into use in the South West in a scheme which has unlocked millions of pounds of funding.
The New Homes Bonus is a Government-backed incentive programme which encourages local councils to increase their housing stock
According to new figures just released, the South West has led the way in taking advantage of the money available and has picked up nearly £4 million from Westminster.
According to the Government, South Hams District Council led the way in the region, with 318 empty properties recovered over the past two years. Other high performers include Plymouth, with 207 homes brought back into use, West Devon with 156 and Cornwall with 212.
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Bringing thousands of empty homes into use has unlocked over £63 million of additional funding across the country, which is directly benefiting local communities through the scheme, said Communities Minister Don Foster. He added that the figures show the New Homes Bonus that councils will have received.
In total, local authorities across the country have brought nearly 38,000 long-term empty homes back into use over the past two years.
Those turned into family homes by other local authorities in the region include 113 in Sedgemoor, 82 in Torbay and 64 in West Somerset.
Mr Foster said it was good news for local communities.
"This information, shown in this way for the first time, lets people see how their councils are embracing the New Homes Bonus by examining their empty housing stock and turning it back into use," he said.
"I'm delighted we've had such a positive start and encourage all councils to work hard in transforming empty properties, which drag down neighbourhoods, and instead turn them into homes fit for families.
"By making councils accountable to their residents, not to Whitehall, we are ensuring local taxpayers have the ability to check that money is being spent efficiently and decisions taken for the benefit of the communities they serve."
The New Homes Bonus scheme rewards councils which increase their housing stock, either by building new homes or converting empty properties back into use.
The scheme match-funds the additional council tax raised, with an additional amount for affordable homes, for the following six years.