MORE than 500 applications have been received to bring empty homes back in to use across south Wales, including the Gwendraeth and Amman Valleys.

Phase one of the Welsh Government’s £10 million Valleys Taskforce empty homes grant scheme was launched a year ago by Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters, after a successful roll-out across Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The scheme is open to home owners across the extended Valleys Taskforce across south Wales from Carmarthenshire to Torfaen in East Wales. Its boundaries were also extended last year to include the Gwendraeth and Amman Valleys.

Phase two of the scheme, launched in July 2020, will ensure even greater numbers of local businesses are used to bring empty homes back to life, and incentivise applicants to use more energy efficient measures within their renovations. Not only will this help to reduce carbon emissions it will also result in lower energy bills for future residents.

While the scheme will see some applicants going on to live in their refurbished properties, other properties will be brought in to use for social housing by Registered Social Landlords, helping to increase the supply of affordable housing.

Chair of the Valleys Taskforce, Lee Waters said: “Of course this year has been challenging for everyone but despite the pandemic causing a delay on the scheme for many months, and the floods that impacted many valleys areas, we have seen great progress. Local authorities have worked hard to roll out this scheme in their areas and provide the necessary match funding to make this success and I would like to put on record my thanks for their hard work.

“With a strengthened criteria, which we developed collaboratively with local authorities and other stakeholders, this scheme has not only brought empty properties back in to use but has also supported the foundations of our local economies by providing work for small local businesses in the construction sector. The retrofitting element also means it is supporting our decarbonisation agenda while also reducing energy bills for future.

“I look forward to seeing the full results of this Valleys Taskforce scheme and will work closely with the Minister for Housing and Local Government to use our learning to influence and develop a future empty homes schemes for the whole of Wales.”

Mike Roberts, from Carmarthenshire, applied to Phase One of the scheme. He said: “My house had been empty for more than two years and desperately needed to be restored to a decent standard.

“The Empty Homes Grant Scheme was a great help and allowed me to carry out essential works all at once.

“There was a formal process and a range of forms to complete but my grant was approved and the work has been done. I am delighted.”

To be eligible for the Valleys Taskforce Empty Homes Scheme, homes need to have been empty for at least 6 months. Applicants to the scheme are also restricted to one grant per person and in cases where repair work exceeds £20,000, will have the option to apply for the Welsh Government’s Houses in to Homes scheme.

To apply, visit: https://gov.wales/valleys-taskforce-empty-homes