A total of £25m in Supplementary Credit Approvals (SCAs) has been made available to local authorities over the three years life of the scheme, which aims to bring vacant accommodation over shops back into residential use.
Sir George said: 'It is our hope that this demonstration scheme will help owners realise their property's potential and encourage them to use this undervalued asset. The Flats over Shops initiative aims to do just this by removing the two major disincentives owners may have in letting to tenants.
'First, funds will be available to make the property habitable. Secondly, housing associations will take on the day to day letting arrangements relieving the owner of these added responsibilities.
'As well as providing much needed accommodation for tenants, the Flats over Shops initiative will also help to regenerate town centres. So, there are positive advantages for all involved and I am confident that tenants, shop keepers, property owners - and the area - can all benefit from this important initiative.'
Resources will be awarded on a competitive basis with priority given to bids which meet set criteria. When SCAs are awarded, a grant to meet the renovation costs of the schemes will be made available under a Local Authority Housing Association Grant, administered by the Housing Corporation.