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Has Anyone Heard Of This 'charity'?

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I thought people might be interested in the below press release I received to my work email address. It's from a company apparently called The Empty Homes Agency. They are (so they say) an 'independent campaigning charity'. Whatever their motives are, it makes some rather good points about GB's new housing policies.

Press release

13th July 2007

New Homes? They Already Exist

The Empty Homes Agency today welcomes the government’s proposed new legislative programme to tackle the housing crisis. But is concerned that they have ignored the potential of empty homes to help meet housing supply needs.

“Gordon Brown is right to make housing the government’s top priority.” Said David Ireland Chief Executive of the Empty Homes Agency “But he has missed a trick by overlooking the potential of empty homes.”

There are 282,000 long-term empty homes in England. Many are empty because speculators buy and leave properties empty to cash in on capital gains. Others are empty because they are in need of repair that the current owner is unwilling or unable to undertake.

“We believe that with the right measures in place the numbers of long term empty homes could be halved, delivering 150,000 new homes onto the housing market. With the added benefits of clearing up eyesores and minimising land take.” said Mr Ireland

The Empty Homes Agency is calling on the government to:

Take away the incentive for speculators to buy to leave by abolishing the council tax discount for empty homes and giving local authorities the flexibility to double the council tax on long-term empty homes.

Harmonise the VAT on refurbishing empty homes and building new homes. Making it more affordable and cost effective to renovate derelict homes. Currently new homes are zero rated for VAT, refurbishing most empty homes is rated at 17.5% VAT.


Notes For Editors

There are 850,000 empty homes in the UK, 675,000 in England. 282,000 of the empty homes in England have been empty for more than 6 months.

Local authorities currently have the freedom to charge full council tax or offer discounts of up to 50% for empty homes. About half of all local authorities currently offer discounts.

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I've not only heard of it, I've met David Ireland. He seemed sound, and we had a chat about 'buy to leave' in the big cities of the North and Midlands.

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