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Hundreds of homes lie vacant in Ipswich despite UK shortage

PUBLISHED: 07:30 31 December 2018 | UPDATED: 13:05 31 December 2018

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Hundreds of homes in Ipswich have been lying empty for six months or more, government figures reveal.

Figures from the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government reveal that in September – when the last count was taken – there were 396 long-term empty homes in Suffolk’s county town.

In total, 988 properties were found to be “unoccupied and substantially unfurnished”.

Campaigners argue these homes should be brought back into use to help families in desperate need of social housing.

Action on Empty Homes campaign manager Chris Bailey said that many neighbourhoods at the lower end of the housing market are “blighted by empty homes and under-investment”.

He said: “Empty homes are a canary in the coalmine telling us the stark reality of our broken housing market. The time to fix that is now.

“Across England more than a million families are on social housing waiting list, and tens of thousands are in often unsuitable temporary accommodation.

“Every empty home is a wasted opportunity to make a family’s life better, and at a time of national housing crisis this is more critical than ever.”

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said no council controlled properties are included in the long-term empty figures.

He said around 100 homes had been brought back into use in the past three years and the Council is currently working on a caseload of another 100 at varying stages of progress.

Ipswich Borough Council’s housing portfolio-holder, councillor Neil MacDonald, said: “We want to get more empty homes back into use by talking to owners to find out why homes are empty and by offering advice and support.

“As a last resort, we will use the powers of compulsory purchase to bring homes back into use.

“An empty property can increase crime and anti-social behaviour, squatters and fly-tipping. That isn’t good for neighbours, whether they are tenants or home-owners.”

The council want to encourage residents to report long-term empty homes via its website at www.ipswich.gov.uk/report-empty-property or by calling 
01473 433033.

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