Empty properties cost councils in Yorkshire and the Humber more than £4m to maintain

EMPTY council-owned properties in Yorkshire and the Humber cost more than £4m to maintain over a 12-month period, according to a report by The TaxPayers’ Alliance.

John O'Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance.

The investigation found that at least 6,047 council-owned non-residential properties across the UK were declared empty for all of or part of the period between January 2016 and December 2017.

The total cost of providing security, insurance, maintenance and renovation of the properties was £74m.

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Yorkshire and the Humber is listed as having 459 empty properties costing £4.03m.

Non-residential properties can include farms, schools and libraries and also commercial properties like shops and warehouses.

Hull was third in a table of top ten local authorities with the most empty properties with 125.

Cheshire West and Chester was first in that table with 185 and Bristol was second with 163.

Kirklees was seventh in a table of top ten local authorities with the highest spending on empty properties at £2.3m.

Aberdeen placed first in that table with £23m and Inverdclyde was second with £6.3m.

The area of the UK with the highest number of vacant council-owned non-residential properties was Scotland, at 1,146.

The English region with the highest number of vacant properties was the East of England with 694.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Councils have a duty to maintain properties for future tenants and owners, so of course some costs will be involved.

"Many people will be startled by the total cost of maintaining empty properties and want an explanation as to why these haven’t been used or sold by the council.

"At a time when families are struggling with the cost of living, and sky high council tax bills, it’s important that local authorities do all they can to ensure that they are making decisions with taxpayers in mind.”