Refurbishing empty homes may not always be the best option for tackling the shortage of supply of affordable housing according to Trevor Beattie the Homes and Communities Agency’s director of policy and strategy.
Speaking yesterday at the Empty Homes Agency conference in London, Beattie said it was “often more expensive to refurbish an existing home, especially to the high standard the public sector expects, than it is to build a new one.”
Beattie said the HCA is looking at how it might be able to direct more of its £8.4bn National Affordable Housing Programme towards empty homes but said it also needed to consider “whether our investment might be better placed in new build schemes where there is a bigger knock-on effect on the wider sector – housebuilders, architects, contractors – in terms of order books, jobs and continued capacity to build.”
“The answer, I believe, is that it’s a balance. We are walking a tightrope of priorities. We are constantly reviewing where we allocate our funding, and through our Single Conversation we will establish with each and every local authority if empty homes are an issue in their area. If we do invest more in empty homes it will be because it’s the right thing to do for local people in a given area.”
The agency is preparing its corporate plan for approval by Ministers in April, as part of which it’s looking at how it can do more to help bring empty homes into use.