There are now more than 268,000 empty homes in England, after the figure rose by 42,540 in the past year.

According to data released last week by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, the country‘s empty homes figure has risen by 36 per cent since 2016.

Describing the numbers as “exceptionally worrying”, Will McMahon, director of campaign group Action on Empty Homes, added: “It can’t be right that in the last four years we have seen an escalating housing crisis while the number of long-term empty homes keeps rising.

“During a national housing crisis we cannot afford to see over 268,000 homes stand empty across the country because of the lack of a government strategy to support councils to bring them back into use. It will be impossible to ‘build back better’ if we keep letting our housing crisis get worse.‘’

The data reveals that London alone has more than 30,500 long-term empty homes and, in 2019, the capital’s councils spent more than £700m on temporary accommodation for people without permanent homes.

Other major cities also saw a marked rise in their numbers of empty homes. Manchester’s figure was up 19 per cent to 1,455, Birmingham‘s was up 18 per cent at 5,386 and Liverpool saw an increase of 17 per cent ito 4,631.

Some smaller northern cities are also badly affected, with 4,091 homes in Bradford classified as long-term empty (nearly one in 50), while Grimsby and North East Lincolnshire have 1,636 long-term empty homes (the equivalent of one in every 45).

Action on Empty Homes is now calling on the government to introduce a new national empty homes programme to create additional housing supply for those with the most pressing housing needs, using properties currently left vacant or in need of renovation.

It also wants to see local councils given new powers to bring empty homes back into use and the creation of a locally focused programme of grants and loans.

Fraser and Fraser remains fully operational and is here to deal with any queries that local authority empty homes officers may have during this exceptional time. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with business development manager Nick Beetham. We are able to offer all our services remotely and we have secure video conferencing facilities.