Empty Homes Week to highlight ‘blight’ of vacant properties

The charity Empty Homes is marking Empty Homes Week (October 15 – 21) by calling on the government to enable local authorities to refurbish the hundreds of thousands of empty properties across England.

Their most recent data shows there are more than 605,000 empty homes in England and that 205,000 are long-term empty homes, many to be found in areas that have experienced significant under-investment.

The National Coalition for Community Investment, led by Empty Homes, is asking the Government to invest in areas with high levels of empty homes, to help community-based programmes bring these back into use for those in housing need.

Their new director, Will McMahon, said: ‘It is very worrying that the number of long-term empty homes has grown by 5,000 in the last year. These are homes that would be more than affordable stand empty across the country because of the lack of a government strategy to support councils to bring them back into use.

‘Hundreds of millions of pounds are spent by local authorities on funding often unsuitable temporary accommodation for homeless individuals and families, with the latest government figure for 2018 showing 79,880 households in temporary accommodation including a shocking 123,230 children.’

‘Yet as this scandal ruins lives and drains the public purse, over half a million 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.’

Local authorities across the country are using Empty Homes Week to highlight past successes and educate the public about what can be done to put a property back into use.

Wirral Council says they are on target to meet their pledge of bringing 1,250 empty properties back into use by 2020.

Since April 2015, when the authority first made the commitment as part of the Wirral Plan, nearly 900 sites which had been neglected or left unoccupied by their owners have been returned to the housing market.

Copeland Council is marking National Empty Homes Week by hosting sessions in Whitehaven and Millom, where it is inviting residents to report empty homes, and learn more about the council’s role in bringing them back into use.

During 2017/18, Copeland Borough Council’s dedicated Empty Homes Officer worked with more than 100 owners to encourage them to bring their long-term empty property back into use which they say has resulted in 33 properties being lived in again.

NewStart interviewed Chris Bailey of Empty Homes earlier this year.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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