HC Deb 08 May 1968 vol 764 cc109-10W
Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many local authority and privately-owned houses he estimates are at present unoccupied in England and Wales, respectively.

Mr. MacColl

The numbers of unoccupied dwellings indicated by returns in the April, 1966, Sample Census of Population and Housing were about 440,000 (or 3 per cent. of the stock) in England and about 35,000 (or 4 per cent. of the stock) in Wales.

The Census post-enumeration survey found that of these 475,000 dwellings, some were occupied either permanently or as second homes, others were derelict or in course of reconstruction and others were in fact non-residential property. The true figure for England and Wales as a whole was probably nearer to 400,000 unoccupied dwellings.

More recent estimates are not available but the numbers are likely to have risen in line with the trend in recent years shown by housing surveys and Censuses.

Estimates for local authority and privately-owned houses separately are not available.

My hon. Friend will appreciate that there will always be some houses unoccupied for short periods when households are moving, and while dwellings are being re-let, sold, converted or renovated. A margin of unoccupied dwellings is needed to facilitate mobility in the housing market and to allow a reasonable choice of dwelling to new occupiers.