Existing homes: resources

Overcrowding and underoccupation

Huntingdonshire District Council has created a useful page of information about welfare reform and underoccupation, please click here.

Empty homes

This page provides a space to share good practice, useful links, local examples and new ideas for joint working to bring empty buildings back into use as homes, to meet housing need across our sub-region.

New Cambridge scheme launched to help owners bring empty properties back into use

Owners of empty properties in Cambridge are set to be offered interest-free loans to help bring them back into residential use, under a new scheme proposed by Cambridge City Council.

The loans of up to £25,000 would be offered to homeowners so that they could carry out essential renovation works such as installing a boiler, or improving bathrooms and kitchens, to bring their property up to a suitable condition to be let to tenants.

To qualify for a loan, the homeowner would need to agree to the property being rented at an affordable rate, and managed, through Town Hall Lettings – the council’s not-for-profit lettings agency – or a similar housing provider, usually for at least two years. Loans would be subject to a formal agreement and would be paid off within two to five years.

According to data from council tax records, there are estimated to be 379 empty properties in Cambridge, of which 56 have been unused for more than two years. The council has an empty homes policy and a full time officer to help make currently empty homes available for people who need housing.

The loan scheme will be a positive incentive for empty homeowners looking to bring homes that have been empty for a long period back into use.

Cllr Kevin Price, Executive Councillor for Housing, said:

“I would appeal to anyone in the city with a property that is currently empty to get in touch with us to see how we can help them turn it into a much-valued home for a family, couple or individuals. “There are many reasons why homes may be standing empty but they can often be a burden for their owners, as well as having a negative impact on neighbourhoods. “The proposed loan scheme for empty homes is another innovative way in which the council is trying to address the shortage of affordable homes in the Cambridge. We have already helped bring 33 properties back into use in the past 9 months, but would like to see this figure increase even more.”

Cllr Price is recommended to agree to the introduction of the Empty Homes Loan scheme at Housing Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 7 March 2017.

Owners of an empty property who would like to discuss how the council can help them bring it back into use can call 01223 457622 or email env.services@cambridge.gov.uk 

You can find the press release here: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/news/2017/03/06/loan-scheme-set-to-help-owners-bring-empty-properties-back-into-use

Digital inclusion

Digital inclusion is all about helping people get on-line, to help keep in contact with family and friends around the world, save money, find information and get services. Getting on-line can mean saving money by shopping around, getting better deals and by comparing prices of goods and services in tradtitional shops with the on-line traders.

Across the UK, the average saving made by someone who is "on digital" is £744 per year; and the average is £516 for households on a low income.

  • There are between 11 million and 12.6 million people in the UK with low or no online capability.
  • There are around 4.1m people offline, who live in social housing.

Employment and digital inclusion

  • 96% of jobs require some digital skills, and around 75% of employers won’t interview someone who does not have basic digital skills.
  • There are increasing barriers for “offline” workers, for example online applications, online payslips and time sheets.

Wider benefits associated with digital inclusion

  • Improved independence and health in older people. Around 1 million people aged over 65 in the UK don’t see a family, friend or neighbour weekly; 81% said computer literacy made them feel part of the modern society.
  • Higher academic attainment at all key stages (by 2 grades at GCSE).
  • Estimated 245,000 children in social housing who lack home internet access could boost future earnings by around £1.5 billion.

Benefits to housing associations

  • Social housing providers could save over £340 million each year by using more cost effective communications with their 9.5 millon residents.
  • Digital inclusion also offers an opportunity for more effective communication channels.

(from CHS slides presented at July CRHB meeting)

Lots of organisations like housing associations, GP surgeries, advice centres and the like are offering more and more services on-line. There are still of alternatives to going on-line, but it's worth exploring.


Please do contact us if you have information or good practice examples you'd like to share here.