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£2.4m to be spent on bringing empty Neath Port Talbot homes back into use

Empty homes

Neath Port Talbot Council is tackling the “blight” of derelict homes in valleys, villages and towns across the county borough by allocating a contribution of £240,000 to a Welsh Government empty homes improvement scheme.

The Welsh Government Empty Homes Scheme is designed to reduce the number of long-term empty properties in Wales – believed to number around 22,000.

It is also aimed at increasing housing supply by offering grants to owners of long term empty properties to make improvements to bring the properties back into use.

Neath Port Talbot Council’s £240,000 contribution to the scheme, approved by the council’s Social Services Housing and Community Safety Cabinet Board earlier this month, will allow it to draw down up to £2.4m of Welsh Government funding to implement the scheme locally over the next two years.

Across Wales, the Welsh Government is investing £50m in the scheme which will make a grant of up to £25,000 available for homeowners or prospective homeowners to remove significant hazards from their properties to make them safe to live in and to improve their energy efficiency.

Once the works have been completed, applicants must then live in that property as their main (and only residence) for a minimum of five years.

The scheme could potentially result in more than 100 empty properties being brought back into use across Neath Port Talbot over the period of the scheme.

Applicants who meet the scheme’s criteria will be considered for grant aid towards the cost of repairs to the empty home, subject to a number of conditions: including:

· The grant is available in instalments as the work is undertaken. A minimum 15% contribution is required from the applicant.

· Grant aid will only be given for eligible work identified by the council’s surveyor. All work identified by the surveyor will need to be completed to ensure all hazards are removed from the property.

· Not all applicants will receive the maximum grant. No grant aid will be awarded where the total assessed work is under £1,000. Eligible properties must have been empty for at least a year.

· The completion of all eligible work is a requirement to grant payment being released. If the cost of eligible works exceeds £25,000, the applicant will be responsible for the excess. Applicants must show they have the finance to complete eligible works.

Neath Port Talbot Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety, Cllr Alun Llewelyn, said: “The scheme will help tackle the empty homes problem facing all councils in Wales along with the associated risks of anti-social behaviour, fly tipping and other environmental impacts that attract crime and disorder activity.”