New Government figures released today show empty homes numbers rise for third consecutive year – up another 10,000 to 226,000

New Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government data[i] released today shows 226,000 long-term empty homes, with a year on year rise of 10,000.

This is the third consecutive year in which figures have risen and the second year in a row to see a 10,000 home rise in numbers of wasted long-term empty homes.

Nationally 85,000 families including 126,000 children are in often unsuitable and over-crowded temporary accommodation at huge cost to taxpayers (£1 billion a year) [ii]

Evidence from London shows how inequality is written large across the new data. Inner London, where debate has centred on the ‘buy to leave’ scandal and ‘homebanking’ by developers unwilling to sell completed new homes into a market decimated by Brexit jitters, saw a rise of 11%; while outer London saw a rise of 9%.

Across London nearly 25,000 homes lie long-term empty while up to thousands sleep on the streets[iii]. and a shocking 80,000 children of school age lack a permanent home[iv]. All this at a time when London councils are spending £600million per year of the national £1billion a year Temporary Accommodation spend.

Areas in the North, where communities are blighted by under-investment also see figures remain stubbornly high. Bradford has a staggering 4000 plus long term empty homes (or nearly 1 in 50), while Hartlepool is up 7% to around 800 long term empty homes, Middlesbrough sees a 14% plus rise to 1,163 long term empty homes; and Grimsby and North East Lincs have 1,511 long term empty homes (again around one in every 50).

The national Coalition for Community Investment[v], led by Action on Empty Homes[vi] calls on Government to support local authorities to enable them to return properties to use.

This call was recently backed by Nationwide Building Society[vii] who launched a campaign to lobby MPs on the issue alongside the campaigning charity[viii]

As Britain decides its future Government Action on Empty Homes core policy ask of parties contesting the the 2019 General Election is this:

A national empty homes programme to create additional housing supply for those in most housing need, utilising properties currently left vacant or in need of renovation.

This will:

Introduce new powers to allow local councils to bring empty homes back into use.

Create a national fund to support councils in bringing tens of thousands of long-term empty homes back into use through a locally focussed programme of grants and loans.

Ensure owners taking advantage of this programme agree nomination rights and fair rents with councils, so that homes brought into use can help alleviate local housing need and reduce the £1billion national temporary accommodation bill for local authorities.

Create a fund for local authorities to help capacity-build local community-led housing projects which sustainably refurbish long-term empty homes and buildings.

Director of Action on Empty Homes, Will McMahon, said

‘As Britain decides its future in the current General Election we once again see housing as a top issue amongst voters concerns, yet every Government housing statistic is going the wrong way. To see empty homes numbers shoot up for a third year alongside rising homelessness is simply unacceptable. Our housing market is not delivering the housing we need. This is why we want to see hundreds of thousands of wasted empty homes brought into use for those in housing need. At a time of national housing crisis we cannot afford to see 226,000 homes stand empty across the country because of the lack of a government strategy to support councils to bring them back into use.

Enquiries: Chris Bailey on 07979 647 237 or 020 7832 5808 


[i] Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government Housing Statistical Release, 13 Nov 2018: Official Statistics: Council Taxbase 2018 in England Local Authority Level Data

[ii] House of Commons Library ‘Households in temporary accommodation (England)’ (15 Oct 2019)

[iii] BBC Report of Greater London Authority Figures (June 2019)

[iv] Ministry of Housing and Local Government Statutory Homelessness Statistical Release (Q1 2019)  - Released 22 Sept 2019)

[v] The Coalition on Community Investment is chaired by cross-bench peer Lord Best is supported by: Association of Residential Letting Agents / National Association of Estate Agents: Propertymark; Crisis; Federation of Master Builders; Locality; National Community Land Trust Network; Northern Housing Consortium; National Housing Federation, Residential Landlords Association and Shelter:

[vi] Action on Empty Homes is a national campaigning charity previously known as The Empty Homes Agency and provides the only independent analysis of official data on empty homes: see

[viii] Nationwide Building Society Empty Homes Campaign