Conference to focus on £4.3 billion waste of Scotland’s empty homes

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter
Graeme Brown

The potential value of Scotland’s empty homes is a staggering £4.3 billion, according to the organisation tasked with bringing them back into use.

Ahead of its annual conference, The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP), which is run by housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government, says that owners of Scotland’s 27,000 long-term private empty homes should make more of their assets and bring much needed housing stock back into use.

The SEHP says that at an average sale price of £160,000 after they have been brought back into use, Scotland’s empty homes could be worth over £4.3 billion. The partnership has already helped bring 1200 empty homes back into use with a potential value of nearly £200 million.

The national Scottish Empty Homes Conference will take place on Tuesday 17th November 2015 at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh. TV star George Clarke, UK Empty Homes Adviser and Architect will deliver the keynote address, followed by Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing and Welfare.

George Clarke will also present prizes for the Howdens Scottish Empty Homes Champion of the Year Awards, which showcase exemplary contributions to the field of private sector empty homes work in Scotland.

Shelter Scotland says empty properties could go some way to addressing the country’s shortage of affordable housing – with 150,000 households on waiting lists for a home, while 35,764 households made homelessness applications last year.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Bringing Scotland’s empty homes back into use represents great value for money but it also provides homes to families and individuals who would otherwise struggle to afford a home of their own, or would be forced into expensive private rents.

“Not only have empty homes projects across Scotland helped over 1,000 families and individuals realise their dream of a home, empty homes work across Scotland has assisted the owners of these properties to make the most of their assets, while regenerating local communities and neighbourhoods.

“While we acknowledge that empty homes alone cannot solve Scotland’s housing crisis, they can be part of the solution to finding permanent and affordable homes to the 150,000 families and individuals across the country on waiting lists.

“We look forward to continuing our work alongside the Scottish Government and other partners, to bring life to empty properties across Scotland and make them into homes again.”

Margaret Burgess, Minister for Housing and Welfare, added: “Making sure everyone has access to an affordable home is at heart of the Scottish Government’s priorities, and that’s why we have increased our support for the work of the Empty Homes Partnership this year.

“We are working to bring empty and derelict buildings in town centres and across Scotland back into use by transforming these spaces into warm and comfortable homes – this is vital to improving access to affordable housing.

“It makes absolutely no sense for us to have homes lying empty when homelessness still exists in Scotland. These homes could be put to good use by people and families who are in great need of housing. Not only that, but by renovating empty spaces we are injecting new life into our communities and town centres, making them attractive places to live and work.”

The SEHP recently launched a free national helpline for members of the public to report empty homes and for owners to seek help in renovating their properties. Advice is also available about local financial incentives – available in over 20 local authority areas - to bring empty homes back into use.

To date 22 councils have set themselves targets from bringing private empty homes back into use. Members of the public and owners of empty homes can contact 0344 515 1941 or for advice.

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