Council to invest £1million in sprucing up empty homes

PUBLISHED: 11:47 26 March 2013 | UPDATED: 11:47 26 March 2013

UP TO £1million is to be invested by a council to give empty homes a new lease of life.

South Cambridgeshire District Council is on the look-out for six properties it can buy and renovate to help provide temporary accomodation for families and individuals in need.

As well as cutting the council’s bed and breakfast bill, the homes will also be offered on a short-term basis to people who are temporarily homeless and on the housing waiting list.

Cllr Mark Howell, the district council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We currently have just over 600 homes sitting empty in the district which could provide valuable housing for those who find themselves homeless.

“We have a duty to help vulnerable people and sometimes there is no other option but to put families into bed and breakfast accommodation for short periods which is far less than ideal. Buying these properties will help us to give more stability for people who find themselves temporarily homeless as well as free up some of the money we have had to spend on bed and breakfast.

“As well as looking on the open market, we have also written to owners of all properties in the district that have been empty for six months or more asking them if we can help them bring them back into use, either through buying them or helping them access loans to bring them up to standard and rented out at affordable rates.”

The economic downturn and national changes to benefits systems has meant more people need support, and the cost of using bed and breakfast accommodation as a short term solution has risen.

A grant scheme, where up to £10,000 will be awarded to a home owner to bring their property up to a good standard in exchange for it being used as affordable rented accommodation for a period of six years, is also being introduced.

Owners of empty properties in the district can find out more by calling 03450 450051.

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