Nearly 800 homes in Gloucester are empty, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed. The figures, uncovered through Freedom of Information requests, show that there are 791 homes across the city that have been empty for six months or more.
Of these, 299 had been empty for two years or more, 95 for five years or more, and 37 have stood empty for at least 10 years in Gloucester.
Across the country more than 11,000 homes have been lying empty for longer than a decade, the Lib Dem figures show.
Conservative-controlled Gloucester City Council has failed to make use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO) in the last five years – powers used by local authorities to take over properties that have been empty for at least six months.
This is despite the fact that some people in Gloucester have spent Christmas without a permanent home – living in temporary accommodation.
Nationally only 19 of the 247 councils in England and Wales that responded had used an EDMO in the past five years. Of these only six had used one in the past year.
Councillor Jeremy Hilton, the Liberal Democrat group leader on Gloucester City Council, said: “At a time when the homelessness crisis is worsening and more and more people are sleeping out in the cold on our streets, it is a scandal that so many homes locally are sitting empty.
“These homes could be turned into affordable places to live for those that need it in Gloucester.
“The Government needs to urgently review the current system which is clearly not working and Gloucester City Council needs to be given the powers and resources to bring empty homes back into use.
“It is shameful that Gloucester City Council has failed to use existing powers to end this scandal. People have spent Christmas without a permanent home because of Conservative inaction and ineptitude.”
Councillor David Brown, the Liberal Democrat housing spokesman on Gloucester City Council, added: “These desperately needed reforms must form part of a wider package to tackle the housing crisis, including building more homes on unused public sector land and clamping down on land-banking.”