The national housing and homeless charity Peter McVerry Trust has given a strong welcome to the new Vacant Homes Tax announced as part of Budget 2023. The charity, which specialises in reusing vacant and derelict buildings to deliver social housing has led the campaign for the tax and first proposed it as far back as 2017. The charity said the measure is directed at increasing the availability of housing across all tenure types and not merely a means of raising revenue.
Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust said “In March 2017 Peter McVerry Trust first proposed a vacant homes tax, at that stage 63% of the public supported such a measure. Since then the awareness and understanding of the potential of vacant homes to tackle the housing crisis has improved and deepened.”
“We have been consistent in our engagement with Government since 2017 that we believe that the introduction of a vacant homes tax has the potential to increase the availability of all forms of housing. We believe that the tax represents one of the final measures needed to realise the full potential of vacant homes. Taken in conjunction with the wide array of funding schemes that have been in place and that are still available to reuse vacant homes we believe we will now see a steady increase in vacant homes being reused alongside greater housing delivery.”
Continuing Mr Doyle said “We believe that the measure offers hope and the prospect of new social housing in areas of need, and communities can look forward to less and less vacant homes blighting their communities. Reusing vacant properties will also be critical for housing needs under the Housing First programme and the wider need to house single people on the social housing waiting list.”
“The reuse of vacant homes is also incredibly important as it is the most sustainable form of housing delivery we can have. Given the climate emergency we face its imperative that we reuse the stock we have effectively so as to meet all housing needs so as to avoid unnecessary and damaging emissions and resource use.”