Today is the launch of the Empty Homes Advice Service. Yesterday Shelter Scotland’s Director Graeme Brown and I, visited a particular eyesore of an empty home in Falkirk. Seeing properties like this just highlights the need for our new advice service. In Falkirk we know there is an active and effective Empty Homes Officer, and in fact it was her who urged us to come have a look at this property. Where Empty Homes Officers like this are in place (in just over half of Scotland’s Local Authorities) our Empty Homes Adviser will be making referrals to these local officers and providing them with support and links to best practice to help them bring these properties back into use.
But it is where an Empty Homes Officer doesn’t exist that the Empty Homes Advice Service will really come into its own. As well as providing a central point for reports of problem empty homes the Empty Homes Adviser will also be on hand to advise both empty home owners and councils just beginning to address empty homes problems about first steps and options.
In some instances the Empty Homes Adviser will take on an empty homes case themselves and use any success to encourage Local Authorities to develop their own local empty homes advice services. These cases will not be about filling gaps or removing the need for local Empty Homes Officers – a single Adviser could never cover the whole country and without being embedded and connected within councils they could never be as effective as a local Empty Homes Officer. However what they can do is make sure that across the country those concerned about empty homes in their areas, and empty home owners who want help, know where to go. The Adviser will arm them with the right questions to ask, lots of options and information about different ways to go about changing their situation and follow up on what happened.
What does the Empty Homes Advice Service do?
- Provide first level empty homes advice to empty home owners, neighbours and organisations interested in empty homes work.
- Make referrals to our network of local Empty Homes Officers working in Scotland’s Local Authorities.
- Follow up on empty homes reports and pursue empty homes case work in areas without a local empty homes service (to demonstrate the art of the possible).
- Provide information on where empty homes grants and loans are available throughout the country and link into local Empty Homes Matchmaker Schemes.
Contact the Empty Homes Advice Service on 0344 515 1941 or email firstname.lastname@example.org