A new investigation by a national campaigning charity has given an insight into the regions with the greatest number of long-term empty homes in the UK.
Data from the research conducted by Empty Homes indicates that the largest number of these types of property (those that have been empty for six months or more) is in the North East of England.
Empty Homes, with support from Aldermore, looked at the reasons behind this, including empty homes and deprivation, alongside issues in communities, such as poor housing in the private rental sector.
The report calls on the Government to bring back dedicated funding for local authority areas with large concentrations of empty properties, to enable to bring more homes back into use. In addition, Empty Homes suggests that the Government should assist in the creation of 20,000 affordable homes from long-term empty dwellings by 2020. The charity estimates that this will set the Government back around £450m over five years.
Utilising Government figures, the report shows that 0.88% of the country’s housing stock is listed as long-term empty. The North East has the largest proportion of regional stock classed as long-term empty, with 1.34%. This was followed by the North West (1.27%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (1.15%).
London was found to have the lowest percentage of long-term empty homes, with just 0.6%.
Results from the investigation show that there are still substantial levels of long-term empty properties in areas that were formerly Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder areas. These areas ran up until 2010, when they were replaced with the coalition Government’s, ‘Cluster of Empty Homes Fund,’ which set aside £60m to attempt to tackle the worst concentrations of unoccupied properties.
With the lack of empty homes funding, which was halted in March of this year, there is concern that attempts to create affordable homes form long-term empty properties will suffer in the face of new build schemes.
According to the research, 78% of British voters believe the Government should place a larger emphasis on tackling the problem of empty homes. 36% said that these types of property blighted their local community.
Greatest number of empty homes in the North
‘With so many people priced out of decent housing across England, there is an imperative to make the most of the empty homes we have in all parts of England, alongside building new homes that are within the reach of people on low to ordinary incomes,’ said Helen Williams, CEO of the Empty Homes Charity.
Charles Haresnape, Group Managing Director of Mortgages at Aldermore Bank, agrees that, ‘the lack of housing supply is the biggest challenge facing the housing market today.’ He says that, ‘until 1990, the number of homes built every year was over 200,000, but the total has only exceeded that level in four years since, during the period between 2004 and 2007.’
‘To meet current demand we need to take a two-pronged approach; refurbishing empty homes and bringing them back into use, combined with building new homes,’ Haresnape added.