Southwark ‘has most empty homes in London by far’

Latest figures discovered by the Liberal Democrats show the scale of the housing crisis in Southwark, in particular the number of empty homes. Over 5000 homes in Southwark lie empty, far more than any other London Borough and three times the average across the capital.

At the last local elections, Southwark Labour promised to build 11,000 new council houses. Since then however, only 178 have actually been built and let by the Labour-run council, while they also decided to sell or demolish more than 2,000 of them. Over seven thousand people are now on the council house waiting list.

Of the five thousand homes in Southwark currently empty, one in nine are council housing. The latest figures show that the average Council homes in the borough is left empty for 109 days. This is five times longer than in neighbouring Tower Hamlets, who take on average three weeks to reallocate their council homes. As a result of so much council housing being demolished and not replaced, or left empty, Southwark is now the only Inner London borough where the level of low-cost housing is actually declining.

Commenting on the figures, Cllr Anood Al-Samerai, Leader of the Lib Dem Opposition on Southwark Council said:

‘These shocking figures show the sheer scale of how badly the Labour-run Council have responded to the housing crisis. No-one argues that the council can solve everything. However, there’s no excuse for having three times the level of empty homes compared to the rest of London, selling or demolishing over two thousand council homes, or leaving their own council homes empty for five times longer than Tower Hamlets do.’

‘Since controlling the council, the Labour group in Southwark have been very eager to do profitable deals with big developers. A quarter of all new-build homes have been sold abroad, with some projects (such as South Gardens) all going to foreign investors. Their record proves that they haven’t been anywhere near as eager to do what they can to address the problems of creating properly affordable housing and genuinely mixed communities for locals.’


Notes for editors:

  • 5,041 dwellings in Southwark are empty – the highest of any London borough, and by a considerable margin. The lowest is 124. The London average is 1,815. Source: Table 615
  • 178 new council houses actually built and let (360 minus 80 S106 purchases and 102 used for temporary accommodation). 
  • The figures for Southwark being the only Inner London borough with declining low-cost housing come from London Tenants Federation report, 2016


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