Hundreds of empty houses

Hundreds of empty houses
Hundreds of empty houses

Hundreds of council-owned homes in the borough are currently standing empty, a national survey has found.

Property firm eMoov found Wigan Council owns 432 vacant houses after making a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The figure is the second-highest in Greater Manchester, with only Salford of the region’s 10 town halls having more homes standing empty with 792.

The Wigan figure is also the 15th-highest number recorded in the whole of England.

eMoov is now calling on councils to do more to make vacant properties accessible again for people to live in to tackle the current shortage of available housing.

The business’ founder and CEO Russell Quirk said: “It’s quite frankly scandalous that in the current market climate those in charge of addressing the severe housing shortage are actually sitting on a potential solution or at least part of it.

“We’ve seen numerous plans and announcements by the Government to tackle the housing crisis and help the average UK homebuyer in previous years, all of which have amounted to little more than regurgitated rhetoric.

“It would seem that parties across the entire political spectrum need to get their own house in order first and utilize the resources already at their fingertips, rather than investing in another failed housing initiative.

“Wigan, like many areas of the country, is in need of more affordable housing to accommodate growing levels of buyer demand.

“We’ve seen previous attempts by the Government to supply this housing fall by the wayside, but Wigan Council has vacant properties sat dormant that could go some way to remedying the issue.”

The research finds councils across England are currently holding on to more than 23,000 vacant properties.

The FOIs covered all residential property owned by councils and comes in the wake of national newspaper reports suggesting there are more than 200,000 empty homes in the UK.

Wigan Council spokesman said: “The number of empty council homes represents less than 2 per cent of the total council housing stock. Most of these are empty because they are in the process of being re-let or are being refurbished before being re-let in order to minimise disruption for future tenants.”

The council is committed to ensuring that re-let times are kept to a minimum.”