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A scheme to tackle Scotland’s empty homes has had its funding doubled, the nation’s Housing Minister Margaret Burgess has announced. The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) will receive a three year extension backed by an additional £616,500 from the Scottish Government. SEHP, which is run by the housing charity, Shelter Scotland helps councils and their partners pursue work to bring private sector empty homes back into use. Overall, the number of unoccupied properties is falling. Currently, 31,457 homes are recorded as being empty for six months or more. Shelter Scotland will use the extra funding to recruit additional staff to support the Partnership and allow up to an additional 12 councils to participate in the Shared Empty Homes Officer programme. By the end of year three, up to 28 councils in Scotland could have had access to an empty homes officer and approximately 1,200 empty homes per year could be returned to use. ‘Empty homes are a blight on both urban and rural communities across Scotland. Bringing empty homes back into use is a cost effective way of increasing the supply of housing available to families across Scotland and it also aids community regeneration,’ said Burgess. ‘That is why the Scottish Government is not only providing a three year extension to the Empty Homes Partnership, but is also doubling its funding. Empty Homes Officers will report over 500 homes being brought back into use in 2014/2015, this compares with the 278 being brought back into use in 2013/2014,’ she explained. ‘There is still a long way to go but increasingly, local authorities across the country are embracing the work of the partnership. Clearly, the network of Empty Homes Officers is having a positive effect,’ she added. Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, described the move as great news. ‘The progress we have made supporting councils and their partners over the last four years to bring hundreds of empty homes back into use is testament to the hard work and commitment of everyone involved,’ he said. ‘Expanding the partnership and putting it on a longer term footing will allow us to do even more to bring private empty homes back into use. Our goal is to see a fully effective empty homes service in each local authority and to bring back as many of Scotland’s long-term empty homes as we can,’ he added. Continue reading →
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