About the Campaign
The Great British Property Scandal was borne out of George's frustration that there are almost one million empty homes in the UK while two million households are in need of a decent place to live; 350,000 of these have been abandoned for six months or more.
What the campaign asked for
George campaigned for two simple but effective measures that would give people the power to take on Britain's empty homes, and the resources to bring them back into use:
- A law change to grant individuals and communities the power to turn abandoned properties in their local area into homes for people who need them.
- The creation of a national low-cost loan fund for owners of empty homes who need financial assistance to get their properties back into use.
What has the campaign achieved?
Within months of George launching his campaign, the first national empty homes loan fund was created by the Welsh Government. In February 2012, it was announced that £5million would be invested into the Houses to Homes Recyclable Loans Fund, aimed at bringing back some of Wales' 22,000 privately-owned empty homes. What's even better is that only a few months later the Welsh Government doubled its commitment to empties and allocated a further £5million to the fund.
The Scottish Government was hot on the heels of its Welsh counterpart, and in March 2012 the then Housing Minister Keith Brown announced the creation of a £2million loan scheme in Scotland. Again, within just a couple of months the Scottish fund was also doubled to £4million. In July 2012 First Minister Alex Salmond committed an additional £2million to help bring back some of Scotland's rural empty homes.
But the best thing of all is that also in July the hat-trick of loan funds was completed with the announcement of a £3million loan fund for England, to be administered by independent charity Empty Homes.
To date, money available to owners of empty homes from new national low-cost loan funds totals a staggering £17million. And it couldn't have been achieved without your help, so thank you to everybody who has supported George's campaign.
Why there's still work to do
But there still is more to be done. Despite former Housing Minister Grant Shapps proclaiming that the age of demolition was over last year, councils continue to board up and knock down perfectly decent housing stock.
Meanwhile, the number of people joining housing waiting lists is steadily rising, and by 2020 one in ten of us will be on a waiting list. There are not enough habitable homes to meet our needs, yet 350,000 long-term empty properties stand abandoned - a wasted resource in a time of national housing crisis.
You can help stop this scandalous waste. Report any empty homes you see to your local council via our Empty Home Spotter app or via the Property Scandal website.
And remember, every empty counts.