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Charity calls for action on empty homes

A charity leader has called on Scottish councils to act now in order to ensure empty homes are not legacy of the pandemic.

Shaheena Din, national project manager for the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP), which is funded by the Scottish Government and hosted by Shelter Scotland, will tell the organisations 10th annual conference today (1 February) that local authorities must include working to bring Scotland’s almost 50,000 empty homes back into use as part of Covid-19 recovery plans or risk them becoming the symbol of economic crisis.

According to Scottish Government figures published in December, 47,333 properties in Scotland had been empty for 6 months or more, up 16% (6370) from the previous year.  More worryingly, the full impact of Covid-19 on the number of long-term empty homes is still emerging, and the figures may continue to rise for some time.

SEHP are also concerned the pandemic has placed Scotland’s ability to deliver 50,000 new affordable homes at risk and believe empty homes can provide a cost-effective way of providing much needed affordable homes after the pandemic.

The average cost of returning an empty home to a habitable state is between £6,000 and £12,000, ten times less than the average cost of building a new home.

‘Images of empty homes came to symbolise economic decline and the loss of vibrant communities across Scotland in the 1980s and recent figures show the Covid crisis is already causing more empty homes in Scotland,’ said Ms Din.

‘We must act now to ensure empty homes do not become a legacy of the pandemic.  By investing in dedicated empty home services, councils can help make homes available for those who need them, improve local communities and deliver a much-needed boost to local economies.

‘No area is immune so we need the 11 councils without a dedicated service to create one urgently, and for all local authorities to prioritise support for bringing empty homes back in to use as part of their recovery and rebuilding plans,’ she added.

Photo Credit – Supplied

 

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