Aldermore demands empty homes intervention
There are over 200,000 homes classified as long-term empty by the government, which is 0.88% of the country’s housing stock.
In June the Conservative majority government opted not to renew the coalition government’s Empty Homes Community Grants Programme, which provided community-led housing organisations with £50m in funding a year between April 2012 and March 2015, bringing almost 9,000 homes back into use in the process.
Converting empty properties is cheaper than building new ones, typically costing £25,000 per home.
Charles Haresnape, group managing director, mortgages, at Aldermore Bank, said: “The lack of housing supply is the biggest challenge facing the housing market today. 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.”
Aldermore’s research found that most homes that are left empty for more than six months are situated in the North of England.
The North East has the highest proportion of homes that are long-term empty in England (1.34%), followed by the North West (1.27%) and Yorkshire and Humber (1.15%).
At the end of 2014 78% of British voters thought the government should place a higher priority on tackling empty homes, with a further 36% saying that empty homes were a blight on their local area.
Aldermore is not the only lender advocating a new empty homes scheme. In May Nationwide Building Society wrote to MPs calling for a renewal of the scheme, but the mutual’s plan to discuss securing further private funding with Conservative ministers and MPs fell on deaf ears.
Helen Williams, chief executive of the Empty Homes Charity, added: “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.”