Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by Penwith Housing Association (EMP 39)


  I am writing on behalf of the South West Regional Committee of the Chartered Institute of Housing to make a submission to the Inquiry into Empty Homes.

  Of concern to our Regional Committee is the high level of empty homes within our region and particularly the high level of second homes which deprive many parts of the south west of active residents who support services at the same time as we have high levels of housing needs. Second homes are empty homes for much of the year. Low demand is not a significant issue in the south west where many areas have high demand, particularly for affordable homes. Our problem is a lack of homes for local purchasers on low incomes and a limited supply of housing to rent. Second homes make this situation worse and place more pressure on local authorities and housing associations as property is effectively removed from the local market.

  We strongly support the ability of local authorities to charge full Council Tax on empty and second homes and the proposal that the resources could be utilised for affordable homes locally.

  We support the Government's proposal to make adjustments to VAT to encourage owners to tackle empty homes, but would advise this will have only limited effect. Local Authorities should have the powers, resources and encouragement to utilise Compulsory Purchase orders to tackle empty homes.

  The effectiveness of Empty Homes Strategies has been proven in a number of local authorities and this good practice should be formally encouraged.

  I hope these comments are helpful to the Committee's deliberations.

Andrew Moore

Chief Executive

September 2001

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