MORE THAN 900 homes in Slough and Windsor have been left vacant over the past six months amid the ongoing housing crisis which has left scores of people across England trapped in temporary accommodation.
Campaign group Action on Empty Homes called the latest figures ‘shocking’, after they revealed long-term empties across the country have risen to the highest level in a decade outside of the coronavirus pandemic.
Data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities report that at least 347 properties in Slough and 562 properties in Windsor and Maidenhead have been sitting empty for more than six months in a recent count in October which looked at council tax status.
In the Royal Borough, it meant the number of homes gathering dust for at least half a year has decreased by 19 per cent from 693 in 2021.
The properties deemed long-term empty were among a total of 1,475 vacant homes counted in Windsor and Maidenhead in October.
Across England, there were 676,500 vacant properties at the latest count.
Some 248,600 (37 per cent) of these had been lying empty for six months or more – the highest number since 2012, excluding 2020, when the pandemic caused a temporary shutdown in the housing market.
Chris Bailey, national campaign manager for Action on Empty Homes, said: “After more than a decade of intense housing crisis it is shocking to see long-term empty homes in England rise to 250,000 – another 11,000 more wasted empties, while nearly 100,000 families are trapped in temporary accommodation, costing the nation over £1.5 billion pounds a year.
“A new national empty homes programme is long overdue – the Government needs to step up to the plate and offer funding and incentives to get these homes back into use.”
He added that long-term empty homes are a ‘huge missed opportunity’ to create new jobs through low-carbon retrofitting.
Owners of properties which have lain empty for two years or more can be charged an extra 100 per cent council tax on top of their bill – rising to as much as 300 per cent if the home has been empty for a decade or longer.