HC Deb 11 October 1976 vol 917 c18W
Mrs. Wise

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his latest estimate of the number of houses which stand empty for more than six months; and how many of these are owned by local authorities.

Mr. Armstrong

The most recent comprehensive estimate of the number of empty dwellings is provided by the 1971 Census, which recorded 675,880 dwellings in England and Wales, about 3.9 per cent. of the total housing stock, as "vacant on Census night".

Information about vacant council dwellings in England and Wales is obtained annually from the Department's Relets Enquiries. The results for 1975 will be available shortly; the 1974 survey recorded that on 31st December 1974 about one-half of 1 per cent. of local authority housing revenue account dwellings, approximately 22,000, were vacant and available for letting, and about a further three-quarters of 1 per cent., approximately 34,500, were vacant for modernisation, repair or conversion.

There is no equivalent annual survey of empty houses in private ownership.

Neither the 1971 Census information nor that in the annual Relets Enquiries indicates how long dwellings had been empty.

As my right hon. Friend said in reply to the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) on 6th August—[Vol. 916, c. 1193–4]—we are considering the need for more up-to-date information in the light of other competing demands on public resources.