More than 600 homes are standing empty in Wigan

More than 600 homes with a combined value of £93m are standing empty in Wigan, a shocking new report reveals.

By Sian Jones
Friday, 1st October 2021, 2:30 pm
Updated Friday, 1st October 2021, 2:36 pm

Insurance company Admiral has analysed data from the government as well as gathering information from local councils through a Freedom of Information request to investigate where in Britain the most homes have been sitting empty and unused for the longest periods of time, and how much money is going to waste.

And in the borough, a total of 637 properties have been left vacant for more than two years at a collective value of £93,639,000.

The report shows that Wigan comes 10th in the North West and has the highest number of houses left empty for over 10 years with 54 properties unoccupied in the area.

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Empty properties in Wigan

The borough comes 11th in the league table of properties unused between two and four years and between five and nine years.

In 2020, over a quarter of a million people in England alone were placed in temporary accommodation during the Covid pandemic – despite an increased number of houses that sit empty across Britain.

In fact, 89 per cent of local authorities in England saw an increase in long-term vacancies from 2019 to 2020.

Likewise, there was a 14 per cent increase in the number of vacant houses in the North West according to gov.uk data.

In the North West, a total of 44,560 houses have stood vacant for at least six months at a collective value of more than £7.33bn.

Further to that, 16,495 properties have been sitting empty in North West for more than two years at a collective value of £2.8bn.

Jo Willmott, Wigan Council’s director for homes and communities, said: “There are a number of initiatives which have helped the council sustain an exemplary record on reducing the amount of empty homes in the borough.

“Early and continual engagement with landlords on how best to bring homes back into use is the at the heart of the approach.

“In 2021 we have embarked on a robust and pro-active approach to bringing our empty homes back into use.

“Often a lot of the work is in tracking down the legal owners of properties that have been empty for a long time, this is something we are putting a lot of effort into.

“There are a number of incentives that can be implemented which include advice and guidance to landlords on bringing properties up to a high standard and therefore making homes more desirable to either private renters or buyers.

“We also offer enhanced insurance products to provide reassurance to landlords that their properties are fully protected should they let them out and direct leasing schemes that remove day to day management responsibility for landlords who perhaps don’t want to take it on

“Where landlords are absent or uncooperative we can use levers such as increased council tax charges, enforced sales and CPOs.

“Finally, there is an increased offer to private rented tenants via our deposit assistance scheme, welfare and move in support which provides greater assurances to landlords to invest in their property for private rental.

“As we emerge from the Covid restrictions our work to bring empty homes back into use is one key area to help address our demand for housing.”

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