£800k for town’s empty houses

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Blackpool is to receive more than £800,000 of government funding to bring empty and derelict homes back into use.

The money will be spent on refurbishing areas where empty properties have led to problems such as squatting, rat infestation and collapsing house prices, which can drive remaining residents away.

It comes as communities minister Don Foster announced £91m was being invested across England to bring more than 6,000 homes and commercial properties back into use yesterday. Blackpool is set to get £807,743.

Mr Foster said: “The government is doing everything possible to tackle the problem of empty homes and urban blight.

“This will bring people, shops and jobs back to once abandoned areas, and provide extra affordable homes we so badly need.

“We have already made very good progress, cutting the number of long term empty homes by 40,000 but with thousands of people in this country desperate to buy a home and areas still suffering problems of urban blight we must go further still.”

The funding is being allocated under two programmes – £61m from the Empty Homes funding programme, given to successful bidders eligible from most areas across England, and £30m from the Clusters of Empty Homes programme, which will fund 20 partnerships in areas of acute problems to bring around 3,500 homes back into use.

Of the Empty Homes money, £33m will be spent in the north of England.

The government has already invested £130m to refurbish up to 11,500 empty homes since 2010.

Councils can charge owners 150 per cent council tax for properties left empty for more than six months, to discourage empty homes.