Almost a thousand homes have stood empty in Wigan for more than six months

Almost a thousand homes have stood empty in Wigan for more than six months, figures have revealed.

Friday, 18th October 2019, 12:12 pm
Empty homes

According to a recent Freedom of Information Request sent to the town hall, there are 996 “long-term” empty homes across the borough.

Of these, only 103 are council properties, with the remainder being privately-owned.

Just over a year ago, in September 2018, there were 1,572 long-term empty homes in the area, homes that campaigners said could be brought back into use to help families in need of social housing.

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Wigan Council says that it has undertaken an “internal review” of processes with the aim of reducing re-let times overall, not just in relation to empty properties.

Jo Willmott, assistant director for provider management and market development at Wigan Council, said: “The record Wigan Council has in keeping its council stock of 22,000 homes occupied is exemplary.

“The data shows there are just over 100 of council homes empty – that represents less than one per cent of the stock within the borough.

“One way in which we have attempted to reduce the amount of empty homes is through the ‘Empty to Plenty’ scheme.

“This transforms derelict properties in the Wigan Borough through an interest free loan from Wigan Council’s ‘Empty to Plenty’ scheme funded by the Homes and Communities Agency.”

The town hall says that it does not currently have any “specific funding” for bringing private sector empty properties back into use but it is looking at this as it develops a new Housing Strategy, which will be ready by April 2020.

Ms Wilmot added: “Another successful method that the Council adopts is by utilising powers to address empty private sector homes which have been empty for the long-term.

"This can be done via a 150 per cent charge of council tax for homes which have been empty for more than two years and compulsory purchase orders for homes which are empty and causing a neighbourhood nuisance.

“Furthermore, the council always looks to engage with owners of empty properties to help bring them back into use.”