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Digest: Call to tackle empty homes

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More than 200,000 homes across England remained empty for six months or more despite a small drop in the number of uninhabited properties, according to a report by campaigning charity Empty Homes.

The report, which analysed October 2015 government data derived from council tax returns, revealed a 1.1% drop on the previous year’s figures for long-term empty homes.

The figures do not include derelict properties that are not considered dwellings for council tax purposes.

Despite the drop the trend of creating new homes from empty ones is under threat from a “shift in emphasis away from specific government investment programmes to target empty homes”, the charity’s director Helen Williams warned.

Its report, ’Empty Homes in England’, called for central government grants to be used once again to support local authorities in creating affordable houses from long-term empty homes.

It also called on local authorities to develop specific empty homes strategies and to employ dedicated empty homes staff to facilitate the process further.

Ms Williams said: “The measures we have campaigned for in recent years have been effective in creating new homes through empty properties.

“It is crucial to get to the heart of the issues that local people face and the reasons properties stay empty if we are to achieve effective strategies for bringing them into use and improving neighbourhoods for the benefit of local communities.”

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