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Government hail reduction in empty homes

The number of empty homes is at its lowest since records began, although home ownership is continuing to decline, the latest figures show.

The DCLG said that the number of empty homes has dropped from 318,642 in 2004 to 203,596 in 2015, the lowest number since records began.

However, home ownership is still declining, from 62.8% in 2014 to 62.5% in 2015.

Brandon Lewis, housing and planning minister, said: “We are turning around the housing market and making sure the best use is made of all housing including empty homes.

“We are very clear that a house should be a home which is why we have taken action to stop homes being bought up and left as an empty investment.

“And we’ve taking forward the boldest ambition for housing in a generation, doubling the budget so we can help a million more people into homeownership, while delivering a bigger, and better private rental sector.”

Their figures also showed the highest annual percentage net increase in new homes in 28 years this quarter.

Government measures to try to get empty homes put back into use include spending over £4.9bn on the New Homes Bonus for councils who bring empty homes back into use, giving councils the power to increase council tax on empty properties, introducing charges on certain ownership to prevent residential property being held through companies left empty, and ensuring capital gains tax is due on gains made by foreign owners who sell residential property here in the UK.

Helen Williams, chief executive of Empty Homes, wrote for PSE last year on how local authorities and housing providers are bringing empty houses back into use.

The scheme means that 106,000 empty homes will be brought back into use.

The government has also tried to increase the number of empty homes with the Housing and Planning Bill, which has just been returned by the House of Lords.

A Public Accounts Committee report published today called the Bill’s plans to extend Right to Buy “entirely speculative”.


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