Mixed figures on empty homes

1 Feb 01
The number of vacant council and housing association properties is rising in spite of an overall decrease in empty homes, new figures reveal.

02 February 2001

In total, the number of empty homes in England fell by nearly 10,000 from 772,300 to 762,700 during the 12 months to April 2000.

But the new figure, which equates to 3.6% of all housing stock, includes 86,000 council homes (up from 83,900 in 1999) and 37,500 homes owned by registered social landlords (up from 32,600).

Although the largest number of empty homes (623,200) is in the private sector, the Empty Homes Agency says problems appear to be mounting for local authorities – in spite of a drop in total stock due to transfers, demolitions and right to buy.

According to the agency, which collates the statistics from government returns, Labour has failed to make more than a small impact on the problem during its four years in power. In April 1997, there were 767,000 empty homes – 3.7% of all stock.

Ashley Horsey, the agency's chief executive, welcomed recent planning changes that encourage use of existing properties ahead of new buildings, but called for further financial incentives, including reduced VAT on repair work.


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