Nationwide demands renewed empty homes scheme

The Department for Communities and Local Government programme ran from 2012 with an annual £50m budget, however in March the funding was cut.

Funding from the programme helped bring almost 2,000 homes back into use per year, with the cost per home being around £25,000 – far cheaper than building a new property.

Chris Rhodes, Nationwide’s retail director said: “In simple terms, if this vital government funding is not renewed, many community housing projects could be severely impacted and, as a result, the number of empty homes being brought back into use would drastically decrease.

“The DCLG funding has enabled properties to be brought back into use for a fraction of the cost of building a new home - making financial, as well as common sense.

“Bringing empty homes back into use can transform whole communities, and in some cases even provide work or skills training opportunities."

Nationwide’s own research has revealed that almost a third (29.8%) of people have a property on their street which has been unoccupied for at least six months, while cities with the worst record for empty homes are Liverpool, Glasgow, Sheffield, Oxford and Cardiff.

An independent charity funded by the society, The Nationwide Foundation, has itself been providing grants to organisations to bring empty properties back into use.

Leigh Pearce, its chief executive, said: “We have worked alongside organisations which are bringing properties back into use as decent, affordable homes and know the immense benefits this regeneration brings, not only to the new residents, but also to the neighbourhoods and to the individuals who gain skills working on these homes.”