The Welsh Liberal Democrats Housing Spokesperson, Peter Black has expressed his concern at the lack of progress by the Welsh Government in bringing empty homes around Wales back into use.
Welsh Government statistics published this week on the Houses into Homes scheme have shown that in the 18 month period between the scheme being launched and September 2013, only 313 houses have been brought back into use. The Government's target is 5,000 empty homes being restored to habitation over the five year Assembly term.
Figures published in January show that there are 19,764 empty and unfurnished homes across Wales which are currently exempt from council tax. In addition there are a further 5,604 dwellings which are exempt as a result of being vacant on the death of the occupant or owner.
"The Minister has set an ambitious and much needed target of 5,000 empty properties becoming homes during this government," said Mr. Black, "yet nearly 3 years into this 5 year Assembly term he has not even reached 10% of that target. It may well be that there are a number of applications still being processed but that is unlikely to get him back on schedule."
"The Welsh Government need to take a much tougher approach to this issue with a national Empty Homes strategy to drive forward the programme across Wales. This would also involve a proper assessment of the resources and tools needed by local councils on the ground and proper coordination of their work..
"At the current rate only 1,251 empty houses will have become homes by the end of the Assembly term. That would be 25% of the Government's target. Ministers need to pick up the pace now or risk failure.