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Empty Homes Grant continuing success

Credit: RCT Council

Welsh Government’s Empty Homes Grant scheme, piloted first by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, continues its success across the County Borough.

The Empty Homes Grant scheme aims to bring long-term empty homes back into use, by providing owners of long-term empty properties with grants of up to a maximum of £20,000, plus a possible further £5,000 for renewable energy measures, so these properties can be transformed into liveable homes.

This funding crucially has provided an opportunity to alleviate some issues such as poor housing stock, eye-sores in local communities and hotspots for anti-social behaviour. It has also enabled numerous first time buyers to get on the property ladder.

Phase 1 of the scheme was delivered from September 2019 – March 2020, with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council receiving 173 applications, with grant funding totalling £2.4 million.

Many properties are still currently under development, but even during the coronavirus national emergency, these properties continue to progress.

Phase 2 of the scheme commenced in July 2020 and will end in March 2021. As part of phase 2, applicants can receive a maximum £25,000 grant, with the grant amount increasing since phase 1 by £5,000. The additional £5,000 is specifically to support any suitable renewable energy measures that may be appropriate for the home. Phase 2 also sees the grant being widened to allow Registered Social Landlords to apply.

Applications are continuing to increase weekly and the scheme is continuing to develop and progress well bringing empty properties across the Valleys Taskforce areas, back into use.

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “Empty homes are a blight on communities and are a wasted resource – a missed opportunity to provide much-needed affordable housing for people.

“A significant focus of the scheme is ensuring that there is a wider benefit for the local economy, with local contractors undertaking the work and the materials being sourced from local suppliers.

“The Council is continuing to work hard in reducing the number of empty properties across the County Borough, and I am confident that Phase 2 of the scheme will continue to build of the successes of Phase 1.”

Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise Development and Housing, added: “I’m extremely pleased to see that Phase 2 of the Empty Homes Grant scheme is proving to be as successful as Phase 1.

“Empty homes are often a burden to property owners, the community that lives with them and the Council – they are also a missed opportunity to provide much needed affordable housing for local people, which we know there is a huge demand for.

“The scheme has helped many first-time buyers get onto the property ladder, and has generated works for many local businesses, which in term helps to boost the local economy, which in the current time has never been more important.