Rise in the number of empty homes in High Peak
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Think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research said home shortages have increased rents and made home ownership unattainable. It urged the building of more houses to "ensure everyone has access to a secure, warm and affordable home".
Census figures from the Office for National Statistics show 2,395 of 43,160 total dwellings in High Peak were unoccupied on census day in March 2021. It meant 5.6% of the 43,160 total properties in the area were empty – up from 4.6% in 2011, when the last census was undertaken.
In England, the proportion of unoccupied dwellings has soared during the last decade, with 1.5 million (6.1%) empty homes littered across the country – up from 4.2% in 2011.
The census took place during the coronavirus pandemic, and the ONS expressed caution that some unoccupied dwelling figures may be inflated due to people living with parents, overseas residents returning home, and other lockdown-related restrictions such as travel.
Luke Murphy, associate director for energy, climate, housing and infrastructure at IPPR, said: "The shortage of homes is putting pressure on rents and pushing home ownership out of reach for many, so it's concerning that the number of unoccupied homes rose in England and Wales over the past decade.
"Because the census took place during the pandemic, that may have contributed to the increase, but the rise means the Government should look again at policies to curb or control holiday homes, short-term lets, and empty homes.
"However, we mustn't pretend this will solve the housing crisis. We must build millions more homes, including affordable housing, if we're to ensure everyone has access to a secure, warm, and affordable home."
The proportion of empty homes varied across the country – London had the most unoccupied dwellings at 8%, while the West Midlands (4.8%) had the lowest.
London also saw the largest rise over the last decade, up from just 3.5% in 2011.In the East Midlands 120,010 of 2,156,645 total houses (5.6%) were empty.
Polly Neate, chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, said even filling every empty property would not solve the shortage of affordable homes.
"We’ll never solve the housing emergency without building a new generation of good quality social homes,” she said.