Labour leader Ed Miliband has set out his party’s aim to tackle the ongoing problem of empty homes across the country, but particularly in London.
Addressing crowds at the launch of Labour’s official campaign ahead of the European Parliamentary elections later this month, he argued the UK faces an ongoing housing crisis and accused Tory councils of failing to adequately face up to the impact of empty properties in their area.
He noted an additional 300,000 per year are needed to offset the current housing debt facing the UK, but with just one-third of this number being built, the fact thousands of homes lay unoccupied is all the more outrageous.
“No less than 60,000 houses … are currently unoccupied across the capital,” Mr Miliband stated.
“These homes, which could be occupied by hard-working Londoners, are too often being held as investments including by wealthy individuals overseas who rarely – if ever – set foot in this city.”
He concluded: “Councils already have limited powers to tackle this problem by charging the Empty Homes Premium.”
However, should his party receive voter approval at the upcoming elections and in the future, he pledged to implement a number of further measures to tackle the problem, including a clamp down on loopholes like ‘buy to leave’ that encourage people to own second or even third properties without regularly residing there.
The Labour Party would act to increase empty home penalties, ensure all new homes built up and down the country are advertised in the UK first (not overseas), as well as pledging to increase the number of homes being built per year to more than 200,000 by the end of the next parliament.
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