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Empty homes level hits 10-year low

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Empty homes level hits 10-year low

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government

Empty homes Empty homes

The amount of vacant properties in England has hit a 10-year low, government figures have shown.

According to the latest data, as of October 2013 there were 635,127 empty homes across the country, down by around a fifth since 2009 and the lowest level since 2004.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles welcomed the news as “a significant achievement” and especially welcomed the drop in the numbers of long-term vacant properties, which fell by around a third over the past four years, from 316,251 in 2009 to 216,050 in 2013.

The coalition government has taken a number of steps to tackle the problem of empty properties, including:

  • A £235 million empty homes funding programme, which it is hoped will bring 12,000 homes back into use by March 2015
  • Rewarding councils for bringing empty homes back into use through the new homes bonus (since April 2011, councils have received over £2.2 billion for bringing over 93,000 empty homes back into use).
  • Giving local authorities new powers to remove council tax subsidies for empty homes and use the funds to keep the overall rate of council tax down.
  • Cancelling the pathfinder programme which sought to demolish homes and instead focusing on refurbishment and getting empty homes into use.

Pickles said: "Empty properties can blight entire neighbourhoods, becoming a magnet for anti-social behaviour when they should be family homes.

"So I’m pleased to see that the efforts we’ve made to bring these homes back into use have helped bring the numbers down to a 10-year low, with the number of long-term empty homes down by around a third since 2009.

"This is on top of the wider efforts we’re making to get the country building, with 420,000 new homes delivered since 2010 – including 170,000 affordable homes."

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