At the recent meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Housing Sub Committee members agreed to allocate a total of £530k of funding to various housing support projects.
Included in this funding was an allocation which Members agreed should be used to continue to support the successful Trusted Trader Scheme.
Included in the allocation, £400k has been agreed to support the delivery of the Below Tolerable Standards (BTS) which is a set of criteria covering elements of a residential property to make it habitable. These criteria include such problems as the main fabric of the building being unstable; an inadequate water supply or lack of sink or WC within the house; lack of bath or shower, which should have a satisfactory supply of hot and cold water; lack of effective drainage.
£100k of funding has been allotted to establish an Empty Homes Fund. The costs of empty homes to the local economy impact on both the community and the Council. Empty homes reduce the value of surrounding properties, increasing anti-social behaviour, such as vandalism and affects community pride. Bringing these properties back into use will reverse these negative effects with the positive outcome of increasing the supply of affordable housing.
The most common hurdle for empty home owners is the financial cost of bringing the property back into use with costs for this typically ranging from £6k to £25k. The £100k approved by members today will be specifically targeted at owners of homes which have been empty for at least one year. Funding would be applied at a flat rate of 50% of the cost of the works assessed by the Empty Homes Officer, with a maximum grant of £10k available, based on total works costing £20,000, subject to standard grant conditions. The scheme is open to private landlords who intend to let the property or private owners who intend to occupy the property, subject to conditions, and for a minimum occupancy period of five years.
In addition to the above, Members agreed to allocate £30k to the Trusted Trader Scheme, in addition to two previous allocations of £30k awarded in 2014/15 which was used to establish and develop the scheme. The scheme provides a register of traders from the home improvement sector which ensures home owners have a choice when it comes to choosing a reliable trader to work on their property.
The Trusted Trader Scheme was launched in March 2015 and initially had 40 member traders. Since then the scheme has developed, exceeding expectations in terms of both membership and impact. The original target, to have 100 traders in the scheme by March 2017, was surpassed in November 2015.