§ Mr. David Atkinson
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the latest available annual estimates for (a) the number of homeless people and (b) the number of empty dwellings in the United Kingdom; and what were the equivalent figures for 1974 and 1970.
§ Mr. Armstrong
Before 1975 information on homelessness was returned to the Department of Health and Social Security; because a different basis was used for its collection these earlier data are not comparable with more recent figures, for the reasons explained in the document I am sending the hon. Member. In 1976, the latest year for which444W data are available, local authorities in England reported to my Department that the number of households who were accepted by them as homeless was 33,680.
The most recent estimate of the number of vacant dwellings in England and Wales—contained in the Housing Policy Technical Volume I—is 775,000–4.3 per cent. of the total stock—in 1976. This estimate excludes second homes, but includes homes which are newly built but not yet occupied. On the same basis, the figures for vacant dwellings in 1971, derived from the decennial census, was 640,000–3.7 per cent. of the total stock. Figures for 1970 and 1974 are not available. A more reliable, up-to-date, estimate of the number of vacant dwellings and information about their distribution, condition, and the reason for vacancy will be provided by the national vacant dwelling survey now in the field.