Latest Public Sector News

03.06.14

Empty homes figures rising in a third of local authorities

In more than a third of English council areas the number of homes that have been empty for more than six months is on the rise, according to new analysis from the charity Empty Homes Agency.

Although the number of long-term empty properties (vacant for more than six months) has fallen to 232,600 out of 635,127 empty properties as a whole, the charity’s research highlighted that there are rising numbers of empty homes in 116 local authority areas.

Local authorities in northern areas and the Midlands continue to dominate the top 20 list of those with the highest proportion of homes standing empty for more than six months, but Kensington and Chelsea stand out as southern members of this list, with over 2% of homes in the borough are long-term empty.

Comparing 2012 to 2013 data, the largest increases in the number of long-term empty homes were seen in Camden (518), Kensington and Chelsea (485), Hounslow and Cornwall (both 410). Helen Williams, chief executive of the charity Empty Homes Agency, said: “Great strides have been made in reducing the number of homes that remain empty, but in some areas the numbers are on the rise again and with around one and a half million households on council waiting lists we cannot afford to take our eye off tackling the national waste of empty homes.

“Some of the areas where the numbers are on the rise, such as parts of central London, have buoyant housing markets and speculative buying-to-leave may-well be a factor requiring some more imaginative responses.”

The statistics, compiled from the latest council tax data that the government collects from all English local authorities, however, did reveal that the largest reductions in the number of long-term empty homes had been made in Manchester (-6,237), Birmingham (-1,372) and Liverpool (-1,148).

During the course of the current Parliament, the government announced a £100m fund to bring more empty homes back into use. Under the remit of the Affordable Homes Programme, £70m of this funding was assigned to the HCA to deliver a programme to bring empty properties back in to use as affordable housing. Additionally, the DCLG stated earlier this year that government has invested £235m to bring over 12,000 ‘problematic’ empty homes back into use by March 2015.

PSE asked DCLG for a comment on the latest figures from the Empty Homes Agency, but at the time of publication had received no reply.

To view the Top 20 most and least affected areas, click here. To see the full statistics visit the Empty Homes Agency website.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

Pauline English   24/06/2014 at 09:36

There should be some legislation that requires homes bought as buy-to-leave to be tenanted or otherwise occupied within a certain timescale (say a year). Developers are building on green field sites before brown field or before developing existing resources. There must be a way of stopping this from happening.

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