Rhondda Cynon Taf’s unique Empty Homes Grant Scheme will be rolled out across the South Wales valleys by Welsh Government – due to its success in helping local residents bring empty homes back into use.

On Thursday, July 18, Deputy Economy Minister and Chair of the Valleys Taskforce Lee Waters made the announcement at the Senedd, after meeting beneficiaries of the scheme in Ynysybwl alongside Julie James, the Minister for Housing and Local Government. Welsh Government has set aside £10m in order to replicate Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s scheme across the valleys.

The Empty Homes Grant Scheme launched in Rhondda Cynon Taf in 2016 – offering home buyers help with the cost of renovating an empty property they purchase. The scheme has since invested more than £2.18m across 130 grants, with applicants also contributing £541,000 towards improvements. Another key element of the scheme is that contractors utilise local suppliers.

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “Empty homes are a blight on communities and are a wasted resource – a missed opportunity to provide much-needed affordable housing for people.

“I was pleased to accompany both Ministers to a property in Ynysybwl today to see how Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Empty Property Grant is having a tangible effect in bringing these properties back into use. The property had previously been empty for two years, but thanks to the Council’s grant and additional private investment from the owners, it has now been transformed into a lovely family home.

“A significant focus of our initiative is ensuring that there is a wider benefit for the local economy, with local contractors undertaking the work and the materials being sourced from local suppliers.

“The Council is continuing to work hard in reducing the number of empty properties across the County Borough, and I am confident that the extension of our scheme across the now-extended Valleys Taskforce area through the funding announced today will have a hugely beneficial impact.”

Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise Development and Housing, added: “I welcome the announcement of £10m funding from the Valleys Taskforce to tackle this issue across the South Wales Valleys.

“Rhondda Cynon Taf will also benefit from this significant funding and this will allow us to extend this scheme and build on the hugely positive work already undertaken to date in accelerating the number of properties that we are able to bring back into use.

“Once again, Rhondda Cynon Taf is leading the way in delivering outcomes through innovative schemes that are now being adopted as good practice and extended to other Local Authorities.”

In announcing the funding on Thursday, Lee Waters added: “Through our engagement work with communities living in the Valleys we have heard concerns around the high numbers of empty homes and the detrimental impact they can often have on the wider community. 

“The unsightly appearance of empty homes can cause a blight to communities and distress to residents, and can also attract crime and anti-social behaviour.

“We also know that empty homes are also often a financial burden to both to the home owners and the Council and represent a missed opportunity to provide much needed affordable housing for local people.

“For this reason I have decided to roll the successful Rhondda Cynon Taf Empty Homes Grant Scheme out across the whole Valleys Taskforce area. This will help regenerate communities, and provide more choice and suitable accommodation for residents.  

“This decision will also help to boost the economies of our valleys communities. The Rhondda Cynon Taf scheme has shown us that applicants are choosing local businesses to undertake their refurbishment work. We want to support and encourage this further, while also driving decarbonisation and other energy efficiency measures.”
Posted on Thursday 18th July 2019

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