Latest government data shows there has been an increase of 42,000 empty homes in England over the past 12 months – that’s despite around 100,000 households continuing to live in temporary accommodation.
These figures represent the biggest spike in the number of empty homes since records began, while also showing a fourth consecutive year in which the number has risen.
The overall total now stands at 268,385.
This year’s rise of almost 20% means the national total has increased by over a third (34%) since 2016.
In London, over 30,000 homes lie empty long-term, with inner London seeing a rise of 27% and outer London an increase of 21%.
Meanwhile, London councils continue to spend around £1bn on temporary accommodation each year.
Manchester saw a rise of 19% to 1,455 long-term empty homes, and Liverpool and increase of 17% to 4,631.
Birmingham is up 18% to 5,386.
Areas in the North saw notable increases – despite the figures for previous years already sitting quite high.
Bradford saw a rise to 4,091 (nearly one in every 50), while Hartlepool’s figure rose to over 1,000, representing a 36% increase over the past 12 months
Middlesbrough has seen a 29% increase to over 1,500, while the number in Grimsby and North East Lincolnshire has risen to 1,636 (one in every 45 homes).
Action on Empty Homes is now calling on the government to create a new national strategy to:
- Introduce new powers to allow local councils to bring empty homes back into use
- Create a national fund to support councils in bringing tens of thousands of long-term empty homes back into use through a locally focused programme of grants and loans
- Ensure owners taking advantage of this programme agree nomination rights and fair rents with councils
- Create a fund for local authorities to help local community-led housing projects that sustainably refurbish long-term empty homes and buildings
‘Impossible to build back better’
Director of Action on Empty Homes Will McMahon said: “The new figures are exceptionally worrying.
“It can’t be right that in the last four years we have seen an escalating housing crisis while the number of long-term empty homes keeps rising.
“Today there are nearly 100,000 families languishing in overcrowded and temporary accommodation at a time when we know that overcrowded housing is being linked to the spread of the Coronavirus and to higher mortality.”
McMahon continued: “During a national housing crisis, we cannot afford to see over 268,000 homes stand empty across the country because of the lack of a government strategy to support councils to bring them back into use.
“It will be impossible to ‘build back better’ if we keep letting our housing crisis get worse.”
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