In a bid to reduce the number of vacant dwellings, secretary of state for communities James Brokenshire has announced new powers for local authorities to charge additional council tax on homes that have been empty for a long time.
Yet Gavin Barry, chief executive of Prosperity Capital Partners, which recently secured planning for a 566-home development on the site of the Old Boddingtons Brewery in Manchester, said that while such a policy was politically understandable, it is misguided and would do little to solve the housing crisis.
Barry instead urged the government to focus on boosting supply of new homes by tackling obstacles in planning issues and adopting a more tenure-neutral housing policy.
According to the government’s own data sets, London is home to 9.71% of all vacant homes while other UK major regional hubs such as Greater Manchester, Merseyside and West Midlands mayoral authority account for a combined 24.5% of all vacant homes. Vacant homes, statistically speaking, tend to sit in the shires, with over a third located there.
Barry said: “With all the talk of a housing crisis by media and politicians no doubt many voters are outraged when they hear about thousands of empty homes across the UK but far from being glitzy new-builds purchased by 'buy-to-leave' investors in inner London, the government's own datasets show most vacant housing is in fact in the more economically depressed local authorities.”