THE number of empty homes in England rose last year for the first time in almost a decade, statistics revealed yesterday.
There were 205,293 properties unoccupied for more than six months, a 2.6 per cent rise in the first increase since 2008, according to figures from council tax databases.
Empty Homes charity said its research showed 37 out of 53 of the areas with the highest proportion of long-term empty properties were in the north of England.
Director Helen Williams said the government should consider allowing councils to charge “a lot more” tax on vacant homes.
Shadow housing minister Melanie Onn said Labour in government would allow councils to charge a 300 per cent council tax premium for leaving properties empty for more than a year.
She said: “It’s simply unacceptable that the number of empty homes is rising and that there are over 200,000 long-term vacant homes while homelessness is also on the rise.
“Labour in government allocated over £300 million a year to bring empty homes into use, particularly in the north of England and the Midlands, but the Conservatives cut all funding after 2010.”
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