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More than 31,000 Welsh houses are empty, say Lib Dems

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 21, 2013

By Helen Keates

Peter Black

AM Peter Black.

Comments (6)

MORE than 31,000 private homes in Wales are empty — and the Welsh Government is being called on to do more to help bring them back into use.

The Liberal Democrats were set to use a debate in the Senedd to highlight the blight these properties have on Welsh communities after they asked voters what they wanted to see on the agenda.

Out of the 31,000 homes, 23,000 are long-term vacant, meaning they have been empty for six months or more.

According to Welsh Lib Dem figures, in Swansea there are 1,788 empty homes, in Carmarthenshire there are 2,104 and Neath Port Talbot has 1,216.

Peter Black, South Wales West AM, said: "Empty homes are a huge problem here in Wales, as can be seen by the support this issue received in our poll. It's an absolute tragedy that there are over 31,000 empty homes across the whole of Wales just sitting there going to waste while there are so many people on the housing waiting list. Welsh Labour has done too little on this and more must be done to tackle the problem.

"The Welsh Liberal Democrats are using our debate to call on the Welsh Government to develop a strategy that will help local authorities bring empty homes back into use.

"It is essential that we equip our local authorities with more effective tools if we are to make real progress on this issue. This is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats want councils to be allowed flexibility in their approach to council tax.

"The Houses into Homes initiative is a welcome start, helped in particular by the fact that the initial £5million identified for the scheme was doubled to £10million following the budget deal between the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Welsh Government last year.

"But we believe this scheme needs to be developed much further, including ensuring that there is more information out there for people to access."

Swansea Council, for example, is currently reviewing its empty homes strategy following a report to cabinet last month.

A Welsh Government spokesman said 2,000 empty homes had returned to use and the Houses to Homes scheme was helping more and more every week.

He added: "Local authorities already have considerable powers to address empty homes and we have published guidance to assist them in using these powers effectively.

"The Housing White Paper, published last year, highlighted our intention to legislate to give local authorities a discretionary power to increase council tax on long-term empty properties to encourage owners to bring them back into use through either sale or rent. This legislation is expected to be included in the Housing Bill later this year."

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6 comments

  • evan_owen  |  February 25 2013, 4:14PM

    Why should we spend public money on private dwellings?

  • nice_nails  |  February 21 2013, 6:02PM

    I've two house that are now empty due to the changes to the benefit system, the persons who were renting them can no longer afford to, so instead of getting the £80 a week rent, i now have to do a few alterations and turn them into bedsits which will now be filled with ex-cons waiting to go back in nick or junkies and rake in £52 per week per room and each house will have 5 rooms. great for me (although the houses will eventually be wrecked) but very bad for the neighbours.

  • JerryLew  |  February 21 2013, 2:23PM

    Private Homes - as long as they are not an eyesore surely there is nothing that can be done about land that is owned by someone else. Ok question to Peter Black - how many of these houses fall into this category? Your party know it is 31,000 ish so guess your party should know how many ish fall into the category - go on Black give us a answer. So Black and his party want to get these homes back in use - presumably to house immigrants etc - well done Black. Come on Peter Black - swep has quoted you - come on back and answer.

    |   2
  • JohnSW4  |  February 21 2013, 11:36AM

    Peter Black like all Liberal spend to much time removing splinters from their back sides from sitting on the fence! An unelectable entity soon to be dumped into oblivion!

    |   6
  • paul0453  |  February 21 2013, 10:01AM

    Peter Black has found another bandwagon to jump on!

    |   5
  • Spideyjonesy  |  February 21 2013, 9:01AM

    MAYBE MR BLACK AND Mr Holley should realise when their party voted in this lib /con alliance people would lose their jobs and not be able to afford to buy houes? the lib dems a party that stands for nothing but falls for eerything

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