Agenda item

Welsh Government Grant - Western Valley Empty Homes Pilot


The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change submitted a report, the purpose of which, was to provide Cabinet with the background and financial and operational implications of the above project and to ask Cabinet to recommend to Council that match funding for the scheme is included within.


She confirmed that Welsh Government has introduced 2 initiatives to focus on bringing empty properties back into use as described in the report.


The northern parts of Bridgend are within the Valleys Task Force (VTF) catchment area.


On 30 June 2020 Cabinet approved phase 2 of the Valleys Taskforce Empty Homes Grant and approval was given to enter into an agreement with Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council (RCT) who shall run, and administer the Grant for those northern parts of the County only. 


The 2 projects are distinct, the VTF initiative is open to people who wish to  purchase an empty house, or owners of an empty property to apply for a grant provided the house has been empty for 6 months and plan to live in the property as their main home for at least 5 years.  The Western Valleys Empty Homes project is a grant designed for landlords to bring the property back into use in exchange for nomination rights for social housing purposes.


The Minister for Housing and Local Government had agreed in principle to an allocation of capital funding of up to £169,000 for Bridgend in 2020-21 to establish a one year pilot.  The offer of grant funding is subject to match funding of 35% being provided by the Council, which is the same percentage of match funding the Council provides under the VTF project.  Welsh Government has made this offer based on the calculations outlined in paragraph 4.1 of the report.


Specific locations of housing need would need to be identified to take part in the project.


The scheme cannot be applied in conjunction with other schemes and a request made to Welsh Government to convert this scheme into the VTF project to ensure a consistent offer across the county was refused.  A further request to allow this funding to be used as supplementary funding for RSLs to purchase empty properties, was also declined.


It was proposed that Cabinet agree to take part in the pilot and recommend that Council makes available the match funding of up to £91,000.  Covid-19 limitations and the length of time left within this financial year, may impact on the eventual outcome and 13 properties may not be achieved. Therefore the level of grant and match funding will be adjusted on a pro-rata basis.


The Cabinet Member – Wellbeing and Future Generations, felt that there should be similar grant offers available to the kind mentioned in the report to property owners etc, outside as well as inside valley area locations.


The Cabinet Member – Social Services and Early Help welcomed the report, adding that empty and/or dilapidated properties were a blight on the landscape and that the initiative was a positive one, particularly in terms of Social Housing.


The Leader felt that a further report should be submitted to Cabinet in due course, outlining how successful the pilot has been.


RESOLVED:                      That Cabinet:


    ·   approved BCBC’s participation in the scheme and to enter into an    agreement with Welsh Government;

·         recommended to Council that the capital programme be revised to include the full scheme costs, including £169,000 WG grant and BCBC match funding contribution of £91,000.

·         Awaits a further report outlining the success of the pilot.


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