The Liberal Democrats have today claimed victory as the Conservative government bowed to pressure to take decisive action on empty houses, by giving new tax powers for councils.
The government has accepted the principle of an amendment from Lib Dem Peers (Baroness Pinnock and Lord Shipley) to set in place an escalator of council tax charges. This would mean that the longer a property was left empty, the more council tax would have to be paid.
In January, research by the Liberal Democrats showed that at least 1,929 homes across Sheffield have been empty for at least six months, with 627 of those unoccupied for two years or more, 274 for at least five years and 122 for 10 years or longer.
Last week Lib Dem leader, Vince Cable called for an increase in council tax for properties that have deliberately been left empty as part of a wide ranging keynote speech on tackling the country's housing crisis.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Campaigner for Sheffield Hallam, Laura Gordon said:
“I am glad to see the government have listened and accepted the Liberal Democrat amendment in the House of Lords.
“The introduction of escalator payments would be an important step in tackling the housing crisis and I hope to see more of our proposals taken forward.
“The housing crisis is a human crisis. With thousands of people unable afford a home of their own, trapped in temporary accommodation or worse sleeping on the street, it is long overdue that action was taken.”