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To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent estimate he has made of the number of empty homes in (a) the West Midlands region, (b) City of Wolverhampton local authority area and (c) Wolverhampton North East constituency in each year since 2010; and what steps he is taking the reduce the number of empty homes.
The most recent estimate of the number of long-term empty homes shows that at October 2018 there were 10,084 homes that had been empty for more than six months in the West Midlands Metropolitan County, and 1,401 that had been empty for more than six months in the City of Wolverhampton. Statistics on vacant dwellings in England and in each local authority district, from which regional totals may be calculated, are published in the Department's live table 615 which is available at the link below. This table shows the annual total numbers of empty homes, those vacant for longer than six months and also vacant properties in the local authority, housing association and other public sector tenures. Statistics on vacant dwellings at parliamentary constituency level are not centrally collected
Local authorities are equipped with powers and have strong incentives to tackle empty homes. Since 1 April 2019, via the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018, local authorities have the discretion to increase the maximum level of premium charged on properties that have been empty for more than two years from 50 per cent to 100 per cent extra council tax. Through the New Homes Bonus, local authorities earn the same financial reward for bringing an empty home back into use as building a new one. In certain circumstances, local authorities can apply for an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) to temporarily take over the management of a property that has been empty for more than two years in order to bring it back into use.