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Local authority releases data revealing number of empty properties brought back into use

03 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Merthyr Tydfil. Photo via Google

Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter

A local authority has brought just over 7% of empty properties back into use as a result of its direct action last year, new figures have revealed.

A report due to go before Merthyr Tydfil council’s regeneration and public protection committee on Tuesday, 9 April confirms 41 out of a total of 582 long-term empty properties were brought back into use as a result of direct council action in 2022/2023.

The provisional figure for 2023/2024 is 32 out of 529 or just over 6% and this data is accurate up until March 13 this year as a full performance review will be completed after the end of the financial year.

The data shows that in 2012/2013 29 out of a total of 677 (4.3%) long term empty properties were brought back into use as a result of direct action by the council.

For 2013/2014 this figure is 29 out of 642 (4.52%), for 2014/2015 it’s 36 out of 650 (5.54%), for 2015/2016 it’s 46 out of 712 (6.46%) and for 2016/2017 it’s 40 out of 583 (6.86%)

For 2017/2018 the figure is 41 out of 622 (6.59%), in 2018/2019 it’s 42 out of 629 (6.68%) and in 2019-2020 it’s 39 out of 550 (7.09%)

In 2020/2021 it’s 37 out of 569 (6.5%) and in 2021/2022 it’s 33 out of 554 (6%).

‘Unlock housing potential’

The report said that the aim of the Empty Property Strategy 2022-2026 is “to unlock the housing potential of long-term empty homes by bringing 7% of our
empty properties back into use each year. (2022-2026).”

The specific target within the strategy is to bring a further 200 empty homes back into use in that period.

The report said that early indications suggest there may be a shortfall in achieving that target figure but data highlighted in this report is indicative for the year 2023/2 and the full effect of the approval of the council using the Empty Homes National Grant scheme is yet to be fully evaluated.

It added that enforcement alone can take a considerable amount of time and resources to bring properties back into use but the council however has adopted additional policy levers to encourage owners of long-term empty properties to be brought back into use.

Council tax premiums

These include the charging of a 100% council tax premium on long-term empty properties, that have been empty in excess of 12 months, with effect from April 2023 and participation in the new National Empty Homes Grant programme for financial year 2023/24 and 2024/25 with the council having used its full allocation for year one.

In Feburuary 22, an Empty Property Strategy 2022-2026 was approved by full council. It helped to focus limited resources to four priorities which include raising awareness of empty homes as a wasted resource and the range of advice and support available to empty home owners, engaging with empty property owners to work with them to bring their properties back into habitation and ultimately increase the supply and choice of decent housing of all tenures for people in housing need, improving the county borough by addressing empty homes that have become the focus of crime, anti-social behaviour and neglect and developing effective partnerships with key stakeholders.

Long-term empty homes were defined as homes that have been empty for six months or more.

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3 months ago

Some progress, better than none at all. However it might be prudent for national and local government to divert more funding into this type of beneficial investment as it will pay dividends in terms of reducing the spend on temporary accommodations.

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