Freedom of Information Request - Long Term Empty Properties

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Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

I am writing to you to request the following information under the Freedom of Information Act:

1) Can the council confirm their current number of Long Term Empty Properties as of the 8th May (those domestic properties which have been empty for six months or older)
2) What work is the council currently undertaking or planning to undertake around reducing their long term empty properties in 2019?
3) During 2018 did you undertake any work around reducing your Long Term Empty Properties. If you did was this done using internal resource or a third party?
4) If yes is the answer to question three, did the council review every single long term property
5) Does the reduction of empty homes in the council area form part of your Housing strategy?
6) Does the council have a budget in place to help support the reduction of empty properties?
7) How much did the council spend on temporary accommodation during 2018?
8) Does the council offer financial support /loans to Long Term Empty property owners to help them bring properties back into use

Yours faithfully,

Jaya Ryall

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Jaya Ryall
 
Thank you for your recent Freedom of Information request.  Please see
below Wirral Council’s response to your enquiry.
 
1)      Can the council confirm their current number of Long Term Empty
Properties as of the 8th May (those domestic properties which have been
empty for six months or older)
Total number of long term empty properties in Wirral as at 1st October
2018 was 2,097, all long-term vacants (all tenures) Source: council tax
base (CTB) - statistical release:
       
[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/collection...
This is the most up to date data available.
 
2)      What work is the council currently undertaking or planning to
undertake around reducing their long term empty properties in 2019?
In addition to Wirral’s 2020 Plan pledge which seeks to bring 1250 empty
properties back into use over a five year period up until 2020, Wirral
Councils 2018/19 Housing Action Plan includes an outcome to identify the
number of empty homes vacant for longer than 2 years and prioritise work
to bring back into use.  A procedure has been established to assist
officers to determine actions, stages and responsibilities involved in the
process of dealing with long term vacants which have been empty for a
period longer than two years. The process ensures that the appropriate
action is appraised, recorded and implemented to enable a co-ordinated
approach to dealing with long term vacant’s. Additional activities to
support this work are ongoing, an example of this is a Merseyside Sub
Regional Empty Homes Event held in March to enable owners of long term
empty properties find out information on the type of support available
from their local authority to assist the return to use of vacant
residential premises.
 
3)      During 2018 did you undertake any work around reducing your Long
Term Empty Properties. If you did was this done using internal resource or
a third party?
        Yes, Internal resource
 
4)      If yes is the answer to question three, did the council review
every single long term property
No, empty properties prioritised based on specific issues exhibited by the
vacant premises. This approach ensures that resources are directed in the
most effective way and at long term vacant's which require the most
immediate response and action.
 
5)     Does the reduction of empty homes in the council area form part of
your Housing strategy?
Yes, Wirral Housing Strategy July 2016 (part of The Wirral Plan: A 2020
Vision) included a target to work with partners to target empty property
interventions and bring long term empty properties back into use, improve
neighbourhoods and the housing offer in Wirral. The annual review of the
Wirral Plan and Pledge strategy action plan 2019/20 included an outcome to
monitor problematic long term empty properties where action has been taken
and properties have been brought back into use.
 
6)      Does the council have a budget in place to help support the
reduction of empty properties?
        Yes
 
7)      How much did the council spend on temporary accommodation during
2018?
        Wirral Council spent £133,377.16 on temporary accommodation during
2018.
 
8)      Does the council offer financial support /loans to Long Term Empty
property owners to help them bring properties back into use
Yes, financial assistance is available via an Empty Property Grant scheme
which can assist with the cost of capital works required to remove hazards
within a property and support the return to use of premises vacant for a
period longer than six     months. The maximum amount of grant available
is dependent upon the location of the property with additional resources
being available for long term empty properties located within designated
Selective Licensing areas, these areas have been identified as a strategic
priority for empty property work in Wirral.
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Lynette Paterson
Principal Information Management Officer
Wirral Council
Business Management - ICT
Treasury Building
Argyle Street
Birkenhead
Wirral
CH41 1AH
 
Tel: 0151 691 8201
[2][Wirral Borough Council request email]
 
 
 
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References

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1. https://www.gov.uk/government/collection...
2. mailto:[Wirral Borough Council request email]