Local councils in England own more than 23,000 empty homes – an average of 87 per council, according to the latest study by online estate agent eMoov.co.uk.
Despite the housing crisis forcing many people to struggle with affordability, recent research by The Telegraph found that there are over 200,000 empty homes across the UK. eMoov has highlighted the quantity owned by councils, which are tasked with housing people and building new homes to meet expanding demand levels.
The agent submitted 270 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to London, Metropolitan and District councils, asking for the total number of empty homes in their possession, including, but not limited to, any council or social housing.
To provide a transparent analysis of the figures, the research not only highlights the worst areas by the total number of empty homes, but also the worst in relation to the total population. More importantly, ahead of 8th June’s snap General Election, eMoov has also picked out the worst political party…
The worst by volume
The worst council where stock levels of vacant residential properties are concerned is the Labour majority Wigan Metropolitan Council, with 3,374 empty homes in its possession.
The worst by population
When taking into account the population size of each council, the top ten remains largely the same, although there is a reshuffle at the top. Lewes District Council, a Conservative majority area, ranks as the worst, with a population of 100,700 and 1,335 vacant properties.
The City of London Corporation and Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council are the only new additions to the top ten when accounting for population, but the London Boroughs of Ealing and Southwark both rank as 12th and 13th by population, as well as making the previous top ten for volume.
The worst by party
Despite holding a majority in just 82 councils to the Conservatives’ 156, Labour accounts for just over 70% of the empty homes across England (16,427) – an average of 200 per council area. When taking population figures into account, it is still the worst offender.
It is important to note that, of the 270 councils, 108 (40%) do not hold any empty homes, 73% of which are Conservative majority councils, with Labour accounting for just 16%.
Of the 270 councils, eMoov failed to get an adequate response from 24. 15 never confirmed receipt of the FOI, so were given the benefit of the doubt. However, eight confirmed receipt, failed to reply within the allotted timeframe and then failed to provide the information during a follow-up. In these instances, the latest Government data for empty homes, within the Local Authority Housing Statistics, from March 2017 was used.
The Founder and CEO of eMoov, Russell Quirk, comments on the findings: “It’s quite frankly scandalous that in the current market climate, those in charge of addressing the severe housing shortage are actually sitting on a potential solution, or at least part of it.
“We’ve seen numerous plans and announcements by the Government to tackle the housing crisis and help the average UK homebuyer in previous years, all of which have amounted to little more than regurgitated rhetoric. It would seem that parties across the entire political spectrum need to get their own house in order first and utilise the resources already at their fingertips, rather than investing in another failed housing initiative.
“It is certainly a worrying sign for UK buyers when Labour, the party that is supposed to be the one for people, is by far the worst offender in hoarding vacant council-owned properties.”
Positively, however, a recent study shows that the number of empty properties in London has dropped by half over the past decade: https://www.justlandlords.co.uk/news/empty-properties-london-drops-half/
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