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Government must prioritise use of empty homes

Almost three-quarters of British adults want the government to prioritise the issue of empty homes in the UK, research from Halifax and charity the Empty Homes Agency has revealed.

The findings coincide with the start of National Empty Homes week run by the charity which aims to get all the political parties to pledge to adopt a plan to tackle empty homes within a year, should they come to power.

The research showed that those surveyed severely underestimated the number of empty homes in England; 80% of English adults believed there were fewer empty properties in England than there actually were.

The survey found people on average thought there were around 377,000 empty homes in England, whereas statistics from the Empty Homes Agency showed the figure was over 610,000.

Over a third (36%) said that empty homes were a blight on their local area, and nearly three quarters (74%) believed the local authority should place a higher priority on tackling empty homes.

Young first-time buyers were a concern among those surveyed. Two thirds of respondents (66%) said “making use of empty homes to help young people get on the housing ladder” was one of the top three policies in this area they would like the next government to implement.

Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at Halifax, said: “There appears to be widespread recognition amongst political parties of the need to build more homes – this makes perfect sense.

“However, we now need political parties to catch-up with public opinion and also give a priority in the future to bringing empty homes back into use to help young people and others access the housing they need, at a price they can afford.”

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