A critical lesson learned since the inception of the Partnership is that having a local dedicated officer is central to tackling empty homes effectively. This is due to the officer being able to focus on the role proactively which is necessary to homes being brought back into use. Over the years, we have seen a direct correlation between the increase in the number of empty homes being brought back into use and the employment of a dedicated empty homes officer in a local authority.
There have been instances where there is a successful empty service across a team of people with shared responsibilities, however, with competing priorities empty homes work can sometimes be downgraded or deprioritised. Several local authorities told us that empty homes work has been deprioritised or stalled since the pandemic.
This year in our annual survey we asked the question –
“Please tell us what % FTE (full time equivalent) is dedicated to empty homes work in your council?”
These are the responses received –
95% of the homes reported back into use this year have been in areas where there is at least 50% FTE EHO.
Many EHOs report that the pandemic has impacted numbers being brought back into use, where owners advise that empty homes work has stalled due to a rise in the cost of materials, shortages in supplies and the lack of availability of local tradespeople. This may impact the numbers of homes being brought back into use in the following year.6