The number of long term empty homes in Bury is on the increase, new government figures show.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) figures show 1,123 homes in Bury were long-term empty as of October – an increase from 1,086 during the same period in 2022.

The figures also show that 146 of these homes are owned by the local authority as of 2022.

The data, which includes figures for homes vacant for six months or longer, shows that the number long term empty homes in Bury has increased by 16 per cent in the last five years and by 13 per cent since 2013.

But the numbers for Bury are less stark in comparison to neighbouring boroughs in Greater Manchester, including Rochdale, where the number of long term empty houses has increased 89 per cent in the last five years.

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1. The number of long-term vacant properties in Greater Manchester boroughs

In neighbouring Bolton, the number of homes empty for more than six months has increase by 27 per cent in the last five years, while in Oldham the number has increased by just five per cent.

The figures cover the number of homes that have been empty for more than six months, excluding those due to flooding or properties left by people in prison.

Nationally, more than 261,000 homes were long term empty. The number rose by five per cent and is the highest since 2011, excluding the pandemic-related figures from 2020.

There were also more than 263,000 properties registered as second homes, with 220 of them in Bury.

2. The percentage change in the number of long-term vacant homes in Greater Manchester boroughs

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Andrew Cardwell, managing director of Cardwells Estate Agents, which manages properties in Bolton and Bury, said there as a number of reasons why a home may become empty, including after someone has died, or if it is being made available for let.

He said: “The October 2023 Empty Housing (England) research briefing for The House of Commons Library discusses that as the number of vacant properties increase in a community, so too can the instances of vandalism in the community.

“So it can be that an increase in vacant properties may correlate with a change in the environment of an area.

"Of course that is not always the case, and there will always be an element of a cycle where properties become vacant and are then sold or let and then occupied once more.

3. The number of local authority owned vacant properties in Greater Manchester boroughs in 2022.  Figures for Bolton, Trafford and Rochdale was given as zero. 

Andrew said that the number of vacant properties in the borough may well change, and added that empty properties are an every day part of the property market and is not necessarily a cause for concern.

He added: “During National Empty Homes Week in March 2023, the Action on Empty Homes group called for a new nationally funded Empty Homes Programme to be put in place to provide funding to local councils so they can choose a mix of “carrot and stick” measures to addresses the issue on a council by council basis.”

In the North West, 42,454 homes were long-term vacant, which was 4.3 per cent more than last year.

Rebecca Moore, director of Action on Empty Homes, said: “It beggars belief that while children are growing up sharing beds in temporary accommodation, our nation has over a quarter of a million homes sitting empty.

“To say this is a national disgrace is a profound understatement.

“Long term empties are a huge missed opportunity to invest in green retrofit and create new jobs.”

She added: “A new national empty homes programme is long overdue – the government needs to step up to the plate and offer funding and incentives to get these homes back into use.”

A DLUHC spokesperson said: “We have reduced the number of long term empty homes by more than 50,000 since 2010 by giving councils powers to bring empty properties back into use, delivering new homes for communities.

“Councils can increase council tax by up to 300 per cent on long term empty properties, and take over empty homes by compulsory purchase orders and empty dwelling management orders.

“We recently laid out an ambitious long term plan for housing and are on track to deliver one million homes this Parliament.”