Housing minister Kris Hopkins made a fact-finding visit to a leading housing support agency to see at first hand the success of a scheme to bring empty homes back into use.

Keighley-based Keyhouse renovates the houses then rents them to people on low incomes on behalf of the owners.

Mr Hopkins, who is also the Keighley MP and the former leader of Bradford Council, looked around an empty house awaiting renovation in the town’s Knowle Park area.

Then he visited a refurbished house elsewhere in Keighley to speak to the young woman living there.

Mr Hopkins later praised the efforts of Keyhouse to solve local housing problems.

He said: “For years, these properties stood empty and unused – when families are in urgent need of homes in our community, it’s right we do everything we can to tackle that problem.

“So I was delighted to see how Government funding has helped the Keyhouse project bring six long-term empty homes back into use, with more in the pipeline.

“Our Empty Homes Community Fund gives communities a chance to breathe new life into their neighbourhoods, and I’m pleased to see how the community in Keighley has taken up this important challenge.”

Yesterday, the Telegraph & Argus reported how Mr Hopkins had denied Bradford had a homes crisis, accusing Council chiefs of failing to exploit the “huge amount of land on offer”.

Instead, he described the situation as a “challenge” and said the solutions included bringing empty homes back into use and also new housing in Bradford’s Canal Road area.

Dave Gibson, who runs the empty homes scheme, said Keyhouse had wanted to make Mr Hopkins aware of what was happening.

Mr Gibson said: “It was to make him see how good the scheme is for people in the Keighley area.

“We see that there’s a shortage of affordable houses locally. This is turning properties round and providing affordable houses for people.

“The scheme is not only for those on benefits, but people on low incomes. It can be singles, couples or people with children.”

Keyhouse last year won £260,000 for its innovative scheme from the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme. It has already brought at least ten houses back into use and eventually hopes to have a portfolio of 25 rented houses that would otherwise have lain empty.

Keyhouse signs long-term leases with owners, such as those who have inherited houses they do not need, or do not have money to refurbish their properties.

Property owners interested in signing up to the scheme should contact Mr Gibson on 01535 211311 or e-mail david.gibson@keyhouse.co.uk.