Empty homes tax ‘would ease housing crisis’

30 Apr 15

Nearly a quarter of a million empty homes could be brought back into use if councils could levy taxes on properties left vacant for more than a year, the Institute for Public Policy North said today.

Launching a mock party election broadcast for a ‘Bricks & Mortar Party’ that would promote housebuilding, the think-tank said 218,000 long-term empty homes – those unoccupied for more than six months – should be brought back into use.

Letting local government decide their own taxes and funding programmes for empty homes, and halving the period before empty home taxes can be levied to 12 months, would help ease the housing crisis, research fellow Bill Davies argued.

It was ‘totally unacceptable’ that nearly a quarter of a million properties stand empty when 1.4 million people stuck on housing waiting lists and homelessness is rising, he added.

‘With a better tax and funding system, we can bring more homes onto the market, and encourage those holding empty properties to fund the costs of those who don’t have a place to call home.

‘More fundamental changes are needed to address the housing crisis – mainly a massive increase in house building – but bringing empty homes back into use can ease the strain faced by people at the sharp end of the housing shortage.’

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