Shock new figures have revealed that Southwark is the worst council in London for the number of empty homes - with a 65% increase over the past year.
Despite over 13,000 people on the council’s housing waiting list, last year there were 4,677 vacant properties in the borough. The figure includes empty council, housing association and private sector homes.
The figures were highlighted in a report by the Department for Communities and Local Government and show a leap of nearly 2,000 empty homes since the year before. This ranks as Southwark’s worst-ever performance since records began in 2004.
Southwark Liberal Democrats have been pushing the Council to take more action to tackle the scandal of empty homes in the borough. They have lobbied the administration to collect more council tax from property owners who leave their homes empty and also for the period before the Council can collect council tax from owners of empty homes to be reduced.
The borough is facing a housing crisis with the local population is set to rise to 355,000 by 2025. The Council has sold or demolished 1,973 of its own homes but built just 65 since Labour took power in May 2010. Southwark also has an increasing number of properties left empty as investment opportunities often by overseas buyers.
Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson, Councillor Ben Johnson, said:
“To have 4,677 empty homes in Southwark is shocking when there are so many residents in desperate housing need and to be the worst borough in London is shameful.
“Labour councillors say their top priority is housing but their record shows that this is nothing more than hot air. Just 65 new council homes have been since 2010 while 1,973 have been demolished or sold.
“At this rate it will be years before Southwark residents get the new council homes they need. These thousands of homes lying empty in the borough could make a huge difference.
“The borough needs to do much more to bring more of these homes into use and make it less financially worthwhile to keep them empty. Liberal Democrats will keep fighting residents’ corner and will push the Council to increase the housing supply in Southwark.”