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Annual Impact Report 2023

Uploaded 15/06/23

Annual Impact Report 2022 - 2023

Looking ahead

Empty homes work in Scotland was starting from a low base when the partnership began in 2010. 13 years later the picture is very different, as other parts of the UK and the rest of the world, now look to Scotland as an example. This is something that would not have been possible without the commitment of empty homes officers across the country and the continued support we have received from the Scottish Government. Proud as we are of our achievements, we cannot rest on our laurels. The coming year sees the start of a new phase for us, where our focus will be on supporting the Scottish Government in the implementation of its Housing to 2040 strategy.

We will do this by supporting local authorities taking a more strategic approach to empty homes work integrated within a wider assessment of housing need and supply and embedded in an evidence based framework of data, policies, objectives, action plans and resources. We will encourage better targeting of resources with a focus on housing delivery, to ensure that homes brought back into use are for people where they are needed most, and in turn help to reduce local affordable housing need. These are bold ambitions and to achieve this, we will continue to lead on developing an enhanced understanding of the homes that are lying empty, their locations, housing type, condition, and size.

At the same time, there must be a recognition that many homes remain empty due to wider socioeconomic factors, rather than simply being a choice made by owners. A cross-cutting local and national policy approach needs to be taken, combining effective enforcement options and financial sanctions for owners who choose to leave their homes empty, with meaningful support and assistance for owners living in areas where no one is buying because of systemic empties. There is also the need to ensure that the appropriate level of resources are allocated to empty homes work, in particular that local authorities have the appropriate number of EHOs to make meaningful inroads into reducing numbers of long term empty homes while still providing practical support for owners and neighbours whose lives are affected by empty homes.

Our recommendations and the year ahead

Our aim is to support the Scottish Government’s commitment to bringing empty homes back into use as affordable housing where possible. We will do this by meeting our Phase 2 objectives.

Our new objectives reflect the need for a more targeted approach to empty homes work as we enter into phase 2 of the partnership.

Phase 2 new objectives:

• Support the Scottish Government in the implementation of its Housing to 2040 strategy and commitment to empty homes aspects of a National Acquisition Plan.
• Encourage every LA to adopt a strategic approach to bringing empty homes back into use.
• Promote evidence-based benefits of bringing empty homes back into use to encourage diverse involvement in empty homes work across Scotland.
• Support the network of dedicated empty homes officers through the provision of training and best practice sharing.
• Run the Scottish Empty Homes Advice Service.