Amongst all the talk of falling house prices and a collapsing economy another threat to our housing is emerging, - rising vacancy. If trends continue numbers could well pass the million mark next year. Does it matter? You bet it does, in a country bursting at the seams with housing need, the prospect of homes for two million people sitting wasted is nothing less than a scandal. Or if you prefer, think of it this way; statistically speaking you now have a one in twelve chance of living next door to an empty home
So what help did the chancellor offer in yesterday's pre budget report? I'm afraid to say – virtually nothing. There was money for housing associations to build more homes and for them to buy up new flats, but this doesn’t address the problem. Instead this should be the perfect time for housing associations to be buying and renovating run down empty homes. Not only would this help provide the social homes we need, but it would boost employment for builders working on renovation and help regenerate the areas where ordinary people live creating healthy mixed communities.
It may be cheaper to buy up new flats from bankrupt builders, but if the government is spending money it is surely worthwhile investing it where we will reap long-term social benefits.