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Derelict homes to receive £91m funding

The government has announced plans to bring 6,000 empty and derelict homes across England back into use.

Communities minister Dan Foster said £91 million has been set aside to refurbish the properties and tackle the issue of "urban blight", particularly in badly affected areas of the Midlands and the north.

The money will be targeted at streets on which empty homes have driven other residents away and led to problems such as squatting, rat infestations and collapsed house prices.

"This will bring people, shops and jobs back to once abandoned areas, and provide extra affordable homes we so badly need," Mr Foster said.

"We have already made very good progress, cutting the number of long-term empty homes by 40,000 but with thousands of people in this country desperate to buy a home and areas still suffering problems of urban blight we must go further still."

He made the announcement during a visit to Stoke-on-Trent, where rundown homes in the Cobridge area that were previously due to be demolished are now being sold for £1.

The city council is selling an initial 35 properties for the nominal fee, with a further 89 to follow. It will also offer buyers a loan of up to £30,000 to help them complete essential repairs to the houses.

Mr Foster said £61 million of the £91 million total will come from the Empty Homes Funding programme, £41 million of which will be allocated by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to registered social landlords and community and voluntary groups.

Areas including Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Middlesbrough will refurbish 3,500 empty homes with £30 million from the Clusters of Empty Homes programme, he added.

Andy Rose, chief executive of the HCA, said there is "a strong appetite and scope for bringing empty homes and properties back into use, which will help to reinvigorate our communities and towns". 

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