Media Release: Bid to bring empty homes back into use across Forth Valley backed by Scottish Government

COUNCILS across the Forth Valley area have been backed by a £20,000 Scottish Government grant to bring the region’s empty homes back into use.

Says a spokesperson for housing charity, Shelter Scotland: “A pilot, under the guidance of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership which is run by Shelter Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government, will see Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire councils collaborate with an advisory board to identify, refurbish and rent, or sell empty homes.

“The project – based on an award-winning scheme running in the south east of Scotland – will see a shared full-time empty homes officer working across all three local authority areas.

“The Forth Valley pilot is backed with £20,000 funding from the Scottish Government as well as additional funding from each of the local authorities.

“According to Shelter Scotland there are 23,000 long-term private empty homes in Scotland of which around 1,600 are in Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire. Meanwhile there are 157,000 families and individuals on waiting lists for a home in Scotland. Of these 12,872 households are in Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire.”

Kristen Hubert, Empty Homes co-ordinator at Shelter Scotland, said:

“At a time when housing demand continues to outstrip supply it is important, now more than ever, to think innovatively and make the best use of existing housing stock. It is positive to see proactive joint working to bringing empty homes back into use for families and individuals who desperately need them.

“Whatever the reason for an empty home – whether the owner has sentimental attachment to it or doesn’t have the time, skills or finances to complete their plans – bringing empty homes back into use has many benefits. It adds to the housing supply, contributes to local regeneration and makes for safer neighbourhoods.  It’s a win-win situation for owners too as they can begin to realise an income from their property or sell on an asset that is costing them money.

“We look forward to working with the councils to engage with owners across the Forth Valley to help transform empty properties back into homes.”

Housing and Welfare Minister, Margaret Burgess, said:

“Empty homes are a blight many communities across Scotland, including those in areas of the Forth Valley.

“Bringing these empty homes back into use makes sense because it is a cost-effective way of increasing the supply of housing available to families, providing much needed new homes for hundreds of people.

“The Empty Homes Loan Fund, and wider work being taken forward by Councils as a result of the Shelter Scotland-led Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, can help significantly reduce the number of wasted, empty homes across Scotland.”

The Forth Valley pilot is based on the award-winning Homes Again project, a shared services scheme covering five local authorities in the south and east of Scotland.

Last year, Homes Again launched its innovative Matchmaker service which has successfully introduced buyers and sellers of empty properties, in a bid to bring them back into use.

The project was named Scottish Empty Homes Champion at last year’s national Empty Homes Conference.

Notes to Editors:

1. Shelter Scotland helps over half a million people a year struggling with bad housing or homelessness – and we campaign to prevent it in the first place. We’re here so no-one has to fight bad housing or homelessness on their own. For advice and support visit or call 0808 800 4444.

2. The Partnership Advisory Board includes:

a.    Scottish Government

b.    COSLA

c.    Shelter Scotland

d.    Scottish Housing Best Value Network

e.    Scottish Rural and Property Business Association

f.     Historic Scotland

g.    Rural Housing Service

3.    The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership provides good practice to councils and their partners through the production of guides, facilitation of seminars and training, and one to one consultancy and advice. The Partnership also has a role in making recommendations to government where barriers to private sector empty homes work in Scotland are identified.

4. Spokespeople are available for interview – call the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line is available for broadcast interviews.

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Shelter Scotland believes everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.

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Contact: Shelter Scotland