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Council leaders in Brent urge Michael Gove to grant additional powers to deal with empty and second homes

Following today’s announcement on empty home premiums increasing from 1 April 2024, Brent Council calls for Michael Gove and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to grant local authorities with additional powers to tackle rising numbers of empty and second homes.

Brent Council is today calling for greater consideration of local authority powers in combatting growing housing pressures. Last week marked National Empty Homes Week, and an exploration of the work councils and communities are already doing to bring wastes empty homes back into use showed that there is much to be desired in tackling the chronic shortage of housing in every part of the country.

With two-thirds of the £4.2bn Housing Infrastructure Fund remaining unspent, cash-strapped councils are now turning to new methods to deal with second and empty homes in their communities.

Cllr Promise Knight, Cabinet Member for Housing, Homelessness and Renters’ Security, said: “Discretions afforded to local councils are the best way to put power back into the hands of communities and local leaders who know the issues we face and how best to resolve them. The housing crisis means we simply cannot afford to let good homes sit empty while thousands of people are crying out for a roof over their heads.

“The log jam in the social rental sector, high costs in the private rental sector, and the chronic undersupply of housing nationwide have forced councils across England to find temporary accommodation for tens of thousands of people. Brent currently supports around 148 households a week with their housing issues.

“If the current trend continues, we could see a 22% increase in homeless applications this year compared to two years ago. A new drop-in centre for single households, The Turning Point, which the council opened in Harlesden last autumn, sees more than 200 people through its doors seeking housing advice each week.”