During National Empty Homes Week 2021 local councils joined Action on Empty Homes in calling for a new Empty Homes Programme from Government backed by new powers and investment, alongside support for action driven by local communities.

Action on Empty Homes called on Government to launch a National Empty Homes Strategy which would to empower and resource councils to act and offer dedicated support to enable community-based housing organisations to work with them effectively.

Below we explain the action we are seeking from Government and explain how this can help councils dealing with an acute shortage of social and affordable housing.

This is also why the Local Government Association has recently highlighted their call for new powers to make it easier for councils to acquire long-term empty homes at a time when over 127,000 children have been spending our latest national lockdown in insecure and often overcrowded Temporary Accommodation.

Over National Empty Homes Week 2021 a series of blogs have addressed key points within our proposals and we link to these and to data on levels of empty homes, below.

Empty homes are not the solution to the housing crisis, that requires us to build social housing at scale, instead of selling off three times as much as we build every year. But targeted action on empties can help meet local needs and undo the damage done to communities both by individual problem properties and by concentrations of empty homes.

As the Local Government Association say, each empty home they can bring into use through schemes that offer them either nomination rights or ownership, can allow them to help a family in need of housing and their are over 100,000 desperate reason why we should be doing that right now. Every home helps.

A new national Government Empty Homes Strategy would:

  • Create a £200m national fund to support councils in bringing tens of thousands of long-term empty homes back into use through a locally focused programme of grants and loans.

Here we look at the rise in numbers of long-term empties reported by nine out of ten councils

  • Introduce new powers to allow local councils to bring empty homes back into use – principally an improved Empty Dwelling Management Order power and streamlining of Compulsory Purchase Order powers (a call backed by the Local Government Association[ii])

This blog highlights why a so-called 'no fault' Empty Dwelling Management Order is a power councils could use to make a difference

  • Ensure owners taking advantage of this programme agree nomination rights and fair rents with councils, so that homes brought into use can help alleviate local housing need and reduce the £1.2bn billion national temporary accommodation bill.

Here we look at the call from councils for new powers amidst a Temporary Accommodation crisis during lockdown

  • Dedicate funding for local authorities to help local community-led housing projects which sustainably refurbish long-term empty homes and neglected buildings to create high quality, well-insulated, affordable homes, through an expansion of the Community Housing Fund[iv].

Here we look at the impact that can be made by community-based housing organisations sustainably refurbishing empty homes

For full map visual and regional and local totals for each council click here

Useful links:

[i] Government Data Release (Nov 2020) : https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/council-taxbase-2020-in-england

Action on Empty Homes Analysis of datahttps://www.actiononemptyhomes.org/news/massive-20-rise-in-empty-homes-up-over-42000-to-268385-while-100000-families-are-stuck-in-temporary-accommodation

[ii] Local Government Association Media Release Jan 13th 2020: https://www.local.gov.uk/around-450-primary-schools-worth-children-stuck-temporary-accommodation-during-lockdown