Friday, 30 November 2012


Spotted on some government website or other by Bob E, who asks "Refurbish? At £60,000 a time?":

Don Foster has announced the opening of bidding for a share of £300 million. The funding will bring thousands of additional empty homes back into use across England.

The communities minister pledged to “stop the rot” that empty homes can bring to blighted neighbourhoods and said that he “wants to go much further” in tackling the problem. Under the scheme 5,000 empty, and in many cases derelict, properties will be refurbished and put back onto the market over the next 3 years...

The government has also given councils greater powers to tackle empty homes locally including:

* allowing councils to charge up to 150% of the normal Council Tax rate on owners of the most problematic neglected homes from April 2013
* applying the ‘New Homes Bonus’ to empty homes, with government matching Council Tax proceeds from newly inhabited properties pound for pound, doubling councils’ revenue from these
* in the most severe cases, enabling councils to take over the most problematic neglected homes through the use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders

If they funded the whole scheme with Council Tax precepts (i.e. quasi-LVT on unoccupied land and buildings) then I'd applaud this; that gives a pull and a push, a carrot and a stick. If only a few land speculators go for the modest carrot, then the tax stick on the die hards won't be very high and they can increase the subsidy and the tax simultaneously. As more and more land speculators cave in and sign up for the subsidy carrot, the higher the tax stick for the recalcitrant speculators will be, within a year or two, there would be no empty homes left, because the extra tax on the last few to cave in would be hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

But as like as not, they'll just be doling out money and feigning surprise at why there are still so many empty and under-occupied homes; and why rents and house prices are so high.