Scottish Liberal Democrat housing spokesperson Caron Lindsay has today taken the Scottish Government to task after the Housing Minister revealed that just 2,800 empty homes have been brought back into use since 2010.
The number, revealed in response to a parliamentary question from the Liberal Democrats, comes despite figures obtained by the party through freedom of information requests in January 2018 showing:
- 20,027 long-term vacant private sector homes across 23 local authorities;
- 5,583 of these have been vacant for more than 2 years;
- 2,053 of these have been vacant for more than 5 years;
- 927 of these have been vacant for more than 10 years.
At this rate it will take 57 years just to refurbish the existing backlog of empty homes.
The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership says that it costs £6,000 - £25,000 to refurbish an empty home, compared with the average £100,000 new build cost, with the added benefit that the infrastructure and local services are already in place.
Commenting on the figures, Scottish Liberal Democrat housing spokesperson Caron Lindsay said:
"It will take forever to turn the tens of thousands of empty homes that exist across Scotland back into productive properties at the current rate of 350 homes a year on average. Scotland's housing crisis demands more.
"There are thousands of families squeezed into temporary accommodation and a generation of young people who are struggling to find a home they can afford.
"Sadly, at the current rate of progress a toddler today would be nearly 60 by the time the government gets round to just fixing up the 20,000 empty homes that we found waiting to be utilised. Hundreds have been empty for more than a decade. They must do better."
Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton added:
"The Scottish Government should fast track new efforts to get these properties back into use and introduce a new help to renovate loan to get existing vacant properties up to scratch.
"With the right incentives and help, many of these could be resurrected to help alleviate the housing crisis, tackle homelessness and give young people a better chance of a home to call their own."