This petition is now closed, as its deadline has passed.
We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to introduce urgent measures to get the 4,600 empty flats in Westminster back in to use. More details
Petition update from the council, 04 February 2013Dear Councillor Dimoldenberg,
Further to your e-petition calling on the Council to follow the example of other councils by offering the owners of empty homes grants of up to £15,000 to renovate their properties, in exchange for allowing the properties to be temporarily used as social housing. I am pleased to report that the Council through funding obtained through the North London sub-region of Housing Authorities from the Homes and Community Agency has secured similar funding. The sub-region has secured funding of £1,357,143 and has a requirement to deliver 95 units of accommodation from the private sector for use as social housing purposes either on a permanent basis or as temporary accommodation. As you imply, most authorities bid on the basis of using the monies to fund private landlords to carry out works to their properties in return for nomination rights for local authority nominated tenants. Many such authorities are now failing to attract landlords to such schemes largely because the capital investment available is insufficient to compensate the landlord for the lower rent that would be payable as an 'affordable rent' compared to the open market rent. The sub-regions have therefore recently been lobbying the HCA for some flexibility in the application of the funding requirements in order to be able to attract more landlords.
The City Council has delivered similar schemes in past years from its own resources and it was apparent that this funding gap would be an issue in Westminster. Our part of the North London bid therefore presented a different proposal whereby the Council would either directly or through its charity Westminster Community Homes use these monies to part-fund the purchase of vacant private sector units. We were successful and of the sum mentioned above £304,143 is earmarked for the City with a requirement that at least 14 units of accommodation are purchased during 2012-2015. These purchases will be primarily focussed in and around the regeneration areas to assist in the delivery that of that programme. We are hopeful that the first 2 purchases will soon be completed.
Strategic Director of Housing, Regeneration & Worklessness
Westminster City Council
More details from petition creator
There are 4,600 empty flats in Westminster, while homeless families are moved out of Westminster to Hemel Hempstead, Bletchley, Maidstone and Grays. The Council should follow the example of other councils by offering the owners of empty homes grants of up to £15,000 to renovate their properties, in exchange for allowing the properties to be temporarily used as social housing.
There are now 1,964 households in temporary accommodation, up from 1,749 in March 2011, and rising. Of these, over 450 families are in bed and breakfast accommodation. Currently, 95 families have been in B&B for over 6 weeks, in breach of the law and Government warnings.
Westminster Council has had to resort to introducing restrictions on the size of properties to be offered to homeless families in order to deal with the escalating housing crisis.
Westminster is now proposing to offer homeless households comprising one or two parents with one child under the age of three a one bedroom flat, instead of a two bedroom property for which they would currently qualify under Westminster’s bedroom standard.