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Coventry City Council tackles empty homes

Words: Sam Waddicor

More than 1,500 homes have been brought back into use by Coventry City Council in an effort to reduce the number of empty homes in the city.

The recently announced Empty Homes Policy looks to expand upon the previous five years' progress by working with the owners of empty homes and offering them advice.

The policy focuses on homes that haven’t been used for a significant time or have been abandoned completely. The scheme not only recovers derelict homes but as a consequence also reduces the possibility that they can be vandalised or used for anti-social behaviour.

Councillor Ed Ruane, cabinet member for housing, heritage and sport said: “It is important that we get abandoned homes back into circulation because if they are left for any length of time they can quickly fall into disrepair and affect the environmental quality of the neighborhood.”

Empty homes are an issue across the country and were one of the key policy debates in the recent local and European elections. According to UKIP, there are more than 630,000 empty homes across England that are currently empty.

The homelessness charity Shelter puts the figure closer to 700,000 with the highest number in the North West where there are more than 130,000 homes empty. The next largest contingent of empty homes is in the South East where just over 98,000 homes aren’t being lived in.

The figures, supplied by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), show that while there are homes that have become empty due to economic issues in the region, there are also homes in thriving areas of the country that could be used again. Research by the insurance firm Endsleigh suggests that the 700,000-plus empty homes could hold a value of £115 billion, equivalent to 8 per cent of Britain’s national debt.