Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has pledged to pressure government into restoring over 760,000 empty UK homes to their original use.
In a policy statement announced yesterday as part of the party’s economic stimulus package, Clegg said that 65,000 jobs could be created while providing homes for families on social housing waiting lists.
The plans would see the creation of 100,000 more social homes and an extra 150,000 private homes.
Owners would be offered a grant for renovations if the property was to be used as social housing for at least 10 years. Cheap loans would be provided to those renovating homes for private accommodation.
Clegg said the plans would help create jobs and provide more family homes. He said the incoming government could use this as a cheaper alternative to building new homes.
This is one proposed solution for finding efficiencies in order to cut the public deficit, which chancellor Alistair Darling forecast would reach £178bn during 2009-10 in last December’s pre-budget report.
“The cost of bringing these homes back into use is just a fraction of the cost of building new ones, yet the government is sitting idly while they fall into disrepair,” Clegg said.
“Allowing thousands of homes to sit empty when millions of families have been waiting years for a home is nothing short of a scandal.”
Under the plans, Right to Buy would apply as it currently does to council homes, but tenants would not have a Right to Buy privately-owned homes being used as social housing under the scheme.
The homes would have to be brought back into use within a year of receiving the loan and the money would be available in the first two years of a Parliament.