Empty homes ‘scandal’ as figure rises at fastest rate for a decade

Government data released this week reveals there are now over 227,000 long-term empty homes across the country, rising at twice the rate seen in 2016/2017.

Inner London saw a rise of over 14%, while outer London the number rose by 8.2%. Across the capital, over 22,000 homes lie long-term empty.

The figures also painted a grim picture across the north, with Bradford having over 4000 empty homes which account for almost one in every 50 homes in the city.  Towns such as Grimsby, Hartlepool and Middlesborough also have around 1000 empty homes, respectively.

The national Coalition for Community Investment, led by Action on Empty Homes, is calling on Government to fund action in under-invested areas with high levels of empty homes, to help community-based programmes bring these into use for those in housing need.

They are also calling on the Government to support local authorities to enable them to return properties to use, through both investment and enforcement-led strategies as appropriate to local housing markets.

Director of Action on Empty Homes, Will McMahon, said: ‘At a time of national housing crisis it is simply unacceptable to see the number of long-term empty homes shooting up by 5% in the last year.

‘Why not back those councils with powers and finance to bring the hundreds of thousands of wasted empty homes back into use for England’s homeless’ right now?

‘Hundreds of millions of pounds are spent funding often unsuitable temporary accommodation for homeless individuals and families.

‘This scandal ruins lives and drains the public purse while empty homes blight the streets of every town in England, cruelly advertising inequality to the homeless families locked out by England’s current national housing crisis.’

In July, housing secretary James Brokenshire announced that he would allow councils to triple the council tax on homes left empty for five to 10 years and quadruple it on those empty for more than a decade.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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