More than 20,000 on social housing waiting list in Wakefield

Landlords sitting on empty homes will be charged more from April.
Landlords sitting on empty homes will be charged more from April.

More than 20,000 people are on the waiting list for social housing in Wakefield, it's been revealed.

Councillor Matthew Morley gave the figure at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, as plans to hike tax on empty properties in the district were approved.

Coun Matthew Morley said the sight of any empty home was "a shame"

Coun Matthew Morley said the sight of any empty home was "a shame"

From April, landlords will see their council tax bill double if a home has been empty and unfurnished for two years or more. It will then treble after five years and quadruple after 10.

It is hoped the move, which is being brought about by a change in the law, will help tackle homelessness.

Councillor Michael Graham, acting member for corporate services, said: "Currently we can only charge 50 per cent (extra) on homes that are empty for two years or more and unfurnished.

"What this change will do is bring it into line with new legislation coming in in April.

"As we know, there's a need for housing nationally. We've got over a million families on the waiting list for social housing in this country.

"This will bring these properties back into use. It will reduce homelessness and it will support regeneration as well."

There are an estimated 4,000 empty properties in Wakefield at any one time. While some of these are only briefly empty as they pass between owners and tenants, many are left uninhabited for months at a time.

Coun Morley, portfolio holder for transport said that empty homes were a waste when demand was so high.

"I know over the last few years we've done a lot of work on empty properties," he said.

"It's a real shame whenever you see an empty property, when we've got over 20,000 people on the waiting list.

"The other problem is these houses can attract anti-social behaviour.

"Anything we can do to help people who are on the waiting list and who are affected by anti-social behaviour is a good thing."