William Eichler 03 June 2019

Councils spend £74m on empty properties in two years

Local authorities have spent millions maintaining empty properties over the last couple of years, anti-tax campaigners have revealed.

Between January 2016 and December 2017, at least 6,047 council-owned commercial properties were declared vacant for all or part of that time.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) have calculated that local authorities have spent at least £74,022,381 providing security, insurance, and maintenance for, and renovation of, empty properties.

Insuring the 6,000 plus properties cost at least £1,329,907, while security costs stood at £7,776,862. The cost of maintaining these properties is £8,085,664.

Renovating vacant commercial properties cost these councils £56,829,947, according to the TPA. However, £51,086,616 of this figure was covered by just 11 properties.

The area of the UK with the highest number of vacant council-owned commercial properties was Scotland, at 1,146. The English region with the highest number of vacant properties was the East of England with 694

The TPA stressed that this report ‘cannot claim to provide a comprehensive representation of the scale of empty commercial properties across different local authorities.’

The think tank contacted 415 councils and only received 319 responses – and there was a lot of inconsistency in the information provided.

‘Not every council provided the full range of data requested meaning that the total expenditure figures published are in many cases unreliable,’ the report said.

The report also said that many of the properties mentioned may have tenants now or may have been sold. Many other properties may have become vacant.

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