Provisional New Homes Bonus figures released - empties down again

The provisional New Homes Bonus figures for 2015-16 show another 10,153 long-term empties returned to use or otherwise removed from the total recorded on the Council Tax Base returns.

The figures are accessible from the government's New Homes Bonus page and were welcomed by Stephen Williams, MP, as reported in the DCLG press release:

I’m delighted to see the number of long term empty homes going down with 100,000 being brought back into use. Today’s New Homes Bonus payments are in recognition of council-led efforts to make this happen.

But I want councils to go even further, and use the range of powers we’ve put in their hands to end the blight of empty properties in our neighbourhoods and bring them back into productive use for the families who need the stability and security new home can provide.

(The reference to 100,000 is presumably for the entire period since the current goverment was formed in 2010.)

Our own analysis of the figures (full members only) reveals:

  • Tower Hamlets received the most NHB yet again (nearly £5.5million)
  • Blackpool and Craven both saw a net reduction in the total number of dwellings and so failed to earn any NHB other than from the £350 earned through additional affordable housing
  • Westminster reduced the number of long-term empties the most (by 667) closely followed by Manchester (665) and Liverpool (597)
  • The biggest relative contribution made by reductions in the recorded numbers of long-term empties compared with additions to the overall dwelling stock was in Tunbridge Wells, where 62 long-term empties were shown as returned to use whilst the overall dwelling stock increased by only 5 units (62:5)
  • Other areas where recorded reductions in long-term empties made a big difference were Pendle (184:39), Gateshead (476:187) and Manchester (665:320).
  • The biggest increases in the number of long-term empties were recorded for Durham (+590), Croydon (+447) and Hounslow (+438).

NB The Empty Homes Network does not accept that the figures produced as part of the Council Taxbase exercise are necessarily accurate as regards the numbers of long-term empty homes. Nor do they accurately reflect the work done by councils to reduce the number of empties as many other factors play a part, including market factors outside of the control of councils.

The figures are in any case provisional and subject to revision. Final figures are expected to be released in February 2015.

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