Rotherham homes have been empty for more than five years

MORE than 120 homes in Rotherham have been empty for five years or more, research by the Liberal Democrats found.

The party’s figures, obtained from councils through freedom of information laws, showed over 200,000 vacant properties across the UK.

Some 11,000 of these have been empty for longer than a decade.

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Only 19 of the 247 councils which responded across England and Wales had made use of empty dwelling management orders - allowing authorities to take over vacant homes - in the past five years. RMBC was not one of these.

Colin Taylor, spokesman for Rotherham Lib Dems, 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 across all of Rotherham.

“The Government needs to urgently review the current system which is clearly not working and Rotherham needs to bring these empty homes back into use.”

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A council spokeswoman said the authority’s pro-active approach had seen a year-on-year reduction in the number of empty homes.

She added: “In October 2017, 2,497 stood empty, representing 2.13 per cent of the total number of households in Rotherham, of which 320 were classed as long-term empty. 

“By comparison, in October 2013, there were 2,842 empty properties, 2.49 per cent of Rotherham’s total households at that time, and 309 long term empties.

“The council is aware there is still much to do and continues to work hard to ensure it meets the needs of its local communities to provide good quality, affordable homes across the borough.”