It’s not a date that’s on many peoples’ calendar, but the impact that empty homes have on people and society is certainly very significant. According to Empty Homes Network, in 2020 the number of empty homes rose by almost a fifth over the previous year and currently stands at a massive 268,000+ empty homes in England alone. This marks the fourth consecutive year of increases in vacant property numbers.
In a recent study by The National Housing Federation the real social housing waiting list in England has now reached 3.8M people, which equates to 1.6M households. Due to the severe shortage of social homes, some of these people have been on the housing waiting list for over a decade and may never be permanently housed. Not only this, it is also reported that over 3.4 million people are currently living in overcrowded households.
As the situation continues to look bleak due to the pandemic, numbers are expected to rise even further. With this in mind, you would expect the number of new social housing projects to be increased, unfortunately this isn’t the case, in 2019 there were only 6,388 new social rented homes built, which represented a massive decrease of 84% since 2010 and new lettings from existing properties also fell by 17%. With these statistics, it’s clear that drastic action really needs to be taken before it is too late to reverse the situation.
Thankfully there are a number of charities, businesses, banks and think tanks that are launching campaigns to petition the government to prioritise this issue. The Homes at the Heart campaign is a partnership between multiple associations and businesses throughout the UK including – The Chartered Institute of Housing, Crisis, National Federation of ALMOs, Association of Retained Council Housing and National Housing Federation; along with over 60 supporters from across different sectors.
In August 2020, a campaign report was sent to the government in a bid to invest £10BN per year investment in social housing, which would mean that 90,000 new social rented homes could be built each year. The report also stated that this should be prioritised in order to rebuild the country from the impact of Covid.
Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “Today’s report shows that the sharp end of the housing crisis is getting sharper, and at a rapid rate. Under-investment in social housing has left us with virtually no affordable homes available for people on the lowest incomes.
The real tragedy is that these are same people impacted the most by the coronavirus crisis, which had led to huge job losses for low income workers. When the government’s Job Retention Scheme and ban on evictions end, we are likely to see people in need of social housing skyrocket.
Everyone deserves a safe, secure and affordable home and social housing provides that vital safety net for low income people including thousands of key workers who have been keeping our country going at this time. We are calling on the government to commit to a once-in-a-generation investment in social housing and put homes at the heart of its plans for economic and social recovery.”
Action on Empty Homes
Action on Empty Homes are a national charity built to develop awareness of this escalating problem and actively campaign for empty homes to be brought back into use for struggling families. Since 2000, AEH has played a significant role in campaigning the government on a variety of issues –
- Removing automatic Council Tax discounts on empty properties
- Councils being able to charge more Council Tax on empty homes
- Government funding of empty homes schemes
- The New Homes Bonus being applied to long-term empty properties returned to use
- The reduction of the rate of VAT charged on empty homes renovation work
- The creation of Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) powers for councils to tackle long-term empty homes
As a leading supplier of vacant property services, we are at the very front line of this crisis and see an exponential rise in vacant properties throughout the UK. We have previously worked alongside Empty Homes Network to sponsor their new ‘Rising Star’ Award which is designed to recognise and reward emerging empty home practitioners who have made a significant contribution over a short period of time.
Louis Fordham, Orbis Protect – Client Relationship Director said –
“We are very proud to be sponsoring the Rising Stars Award in this sector. Over my 26 years working with Orbis, who specialise in the protection and management of empty properties, I have worked in many different roles, which for several years included National Training Manager. In this position I had the great opportunity to see many young individuals grow, thrive and contribute back to the protection of empty homes. We are excited to hear all the great contributions.”
We have also joined forces with E.ON, one of the UK’s top energy suppliers, to support its drive to tackle the UK’s housing shortage by bringing empty homes back into use. The scheme is offering help to owners with properties that have remained vacant from anywhere between six months to 10-15 years.
Andrew Angus, Housing Solutions Manager at E.ON, said:
“Through our work, we’ve seen first-hand the impact empty homes can have on the communities around them and this service can help support them and bring much-needed homes back to use. We hope to be able to offer this solution to other local authorities across the country over the coming months.”
Vacant property and homelessness is a problem that we all need to be aware of, it effects people, families and businesses alike. This ongoing issue is only likely to improve through awareness and action, and it’s through the incredible support of various associations, organisations and charities that keeps this problem highlighted. We hope that we have given you a little something to think about during National Empty Homes Week 2021, if you get the chance, please look into some of the organisations below to see how you can help too.
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