Official figures show fewer residential properties are lying empty in the UK

Taylor Scott International News

The number of empty homes in the UK is now at its lowest level since records began with a drop of over a third from 318,642 in 2004 to 203,596 in 2015. Figures also show an increase in the number of owner occupied homes in the past year, after seven years of decline, starting in 2007. The downward trend in ownership is continuing to level out after a fall from a peak of 69.5% in 2002 to 62.5% in 2015 and 62.8% in 2014. Data from the government also shows that the number of new homes up by a quarter in the last year alone, the highest annual percentage increase in net additional homes for 28 years. ‘We are turning around the housing market and making sure the best use is made of all housing including empty homes. We are very clear that a house should be a home which is why we have taken action to stop homes being bought up and left as an empty investment,’ said Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis. ‘And we’ve taking forward the boldest ambition for housing in a generation, doubling the budget so we can help a million more people into home ownership, while delivering a bigger, and better private rental sector,’ he added. He pointed out that the government has introduced a number of measures to get homes back into use that have stood empty for years including rewarding councils for bringing empty homes back in to use through the New Homes Bonus and since April 2011, councils have been allocated over £4.846 billion for providing new homes. Other measures are providing over 704,000 additional homes, bringing over 106,000 empty homes will be back into use and providing 271,000 affordable homes and giving councils the power to increase Council Tax on empty properties. Alongside this charges have been introduce on certain ownership to prevent residential property being held through companies left empty and move to ensure that Capital Gains Tax is due on gains made by foreign owners who sell residential property in the UK, much of which is left empty. This means the same rules apply to residents and non-residents. Lewis added that the government is determined to provide more homes and has committed more than £20 billion over the next five years to help meet its ambition to provide a million new homes. He also pointed out that Right to Buy is being extended to 1.3 million people, shared ownership properties are being made available to a much larger number of people and 200,000 Starter Homes are being provided at a minimum 20% discount for first time buyers. Taylor Scott International

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