Owners of empty, derelict homes in Redbridge are being offered loans of £15,000 to bring them back into use.

The new scheme is designed to help tackle a shortage of housing in the borough, where there are an estimated 550 properties with no-one living in them.

The loans, which are fixed at a five per cent interest rate, are aimed at owners who lack the funds to repair empty homes and make them habitable again.

The National Empty Homes Loan Fund (NEHLF) scheme is funded by the government with support and involvement from Redbridge Council, charity Empty Homes and the Ecology Building Society.

Cllr Michelle Dunn, Redbridge Council's cabinet member for housing, said: “We don’t want to see homes lying empty when there is such a high housing demand.

"This scheme complements and provides added value to Redbridge's existing package of advice, empty home grants and other financial assistance, which includes owners leasing their properties to the council on completion of works.

"We are happy to be part of this scheme look forward to working in partnership, with the charity Empty Homes and owners of empty properties.”

A council spokeswoman added: "For further information on bringing empty homes back into use, please contact the council’s empty homes officer on  020 8554 5000, email empty.homes@redbridge.gov.uk or visit www.redbridge.gov.uk/emptyhomes".