- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Pembrokeshire is the only county in Wales not benefitting from a Welsh Government scheme to refurbish empty homes, it has been revealed.
At Assembly Questions today (8 January), Joyce Watson (Mid and West Wales) asked Welsh Housing Minister Huw Lewis why Pembrokeshire is the only Welsh authority not to have accessed money from the Government’s £10 million Houses into Homes scheme.
The Labour Member and former Pembrokeshire County Councillor said:
“I want to know why the Council is ignoring this chance to bring empty homes back into use and provide more decent homes for people. Why is Pembrokeshire Council staying out in the cold?”
The Minister confirmed that Pembrokeshire is the only authority not to have got involved in the scheme. Meanwhile, neighbouring authorities, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, have accessed funding. However, the Minister said that while he encouraged authorities to take part in the scheme, they would not obliged to do so.
The Houses into Homes scheme makes available interest free loans to bring empty houses or commercial buildings back into use as homes – including splitting them into flats – for sale or rent. The loans have to be paid back within two or three years depending on whether the property is sold or let, and when the work is completed, the property must be sold or rented out – the owners can’t do up a property and then live in it themselves.
Mrs Watson, who chairs the Assembly’s Cross Party Construction Industry Group, continued:
“Local businesses have also been denied an opportunity to refurbish homes and create much-needed housing sector jobs, sucking potential investment out of the local economy.”
Houses into Homes was launched by the Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage in April 2012.
Latest figures suggest there are around 23,000 empty properties in Wales.
For more information about Joyce Watson AM’s campaign work, go to www.joycewatson.org.uk