Empty Homes Week 2023
The 2023 annual Empty Homes Week was held between Monday, February 27 and Sunday, March 5. The aim of Empty Homes Week 2023 was to publicise the number of empty properties going to waste in the UK and encourage councils to act in order to bring them back into use. With over one million empty properties identified throughout the UK, Empty Homes Week 2023 gave councils and local authorities an opportunity to take action as the country is gripped by a lack of available housing. Here are some of the aims and results from Empty Homes Week 2023.
Why is Empty Homes Week Important?
Since 2000, the charity organisation Action on Empty Homes has identified over a million empty properties across the UK that are unused and often neglected. Each year the charity runs the National Empty Homes Week designed to encourage participating councils to bring these properties back into use. The aim of this initiative is to both increase the amount of affordable housing available to the public and to reduce the impact derelict homes have on the surrounding neighbourhood. Since its inception in 2012, 120 local authorities have joined the Empty Homes Week initiative with over 9,000 homes being restored within the first three years resulting in council tax increases for previously disused properties. As such, the event is important in highlighting the issue of abandoned houses and how to bring them back into use.
Aims of Empty Homes Week 2023
In the lead-up to Empty Homes Week 2023, according to Action on Empty Homes, it was found that approximately 250,000 properties in England had been left empty for over six months. Add to this another 200,000 empty homes exempted from council taxes, 257,000 unused “second homes”, and over 70,000 empty second homes being short-let under business rates. The aim of Empty Homes Week 2023 was to highlight the actions taken by councils to bring these empty homes into use and find homes for the over 250,000 people in England without accommodation.
The three key themes of Empty Homes Week 2023 were:
- Publicising the work of councils and local initiatives to eliminate empty housing, including social media posts, case studies, and other awareness-raising
- Highlighting the value of retrofitting during renovations as a way to reach NetZero targets, with a call for more government funding to support such initiatives.
- Promoting the opportunities provided by partnerships with local authorities and community-based approaches to making empty homes usable.
Results of Empty Homes Week 2023
Some of the achievements of Empty Homes Week 2023 were as follows:
- Action on Empty Homes found that the number of long-term empty homes in the UK had risen by 5% in 2022, the highest it has been since 2011.
- The charity published a report on the benefits of retrofitting empty homes and how this can help achieve net zero.
- The Local Government Association, ARLA Propertymark and others joined with Action on Empty Homes to call for a local government-funded National Empty Homes Programme.
- Many local authorities across the country took part in Empty Homes Week 2023 and introduced new initiatives for bringing empty homes into use. These include Babergh District Council and Mid Suffolk District Council’s joint Houses4Homes programme, Calderdale Council’s work with genealogists to locate relatives of late homeowners, and No Use Empty, a partnership between Kent County Council and thirteen other district councils.
Anglia Research Services
Locating the legal owner of an empty property – or their heirs – can often be the very first stage in helping bring the property back into use and is a service we offer free of charge to local authorities in the UK.
For more information on initiatives on empty homes and the services we provide on them, get in touch with us today.
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