IT is claimed that putting people into empty homes could slash the housing shortage.

Andy Boddington who represents Ludlow North on Shropshire Council claims that there are nearly 5,000 empty houses in Shropshire.

“Every day we hear about the housing crisis,” he said.

“Politicians tell us we must build more housing urgently. Yet they say next to nothing about empty homes. There are more than 600,000 empty homes in England, enough to cut the housing waiting list by half.

“Here in Shropshire, there are 4,375 empty homes. That’s more than three per cent of the county’s housing stock.”

The councillor says that many of the homes are left empty on a long-term basis,” he added.

“If they were brought back into use, they could provide homes for four in five of the households on the waiting list.

“More than a third of the empty homes in Shropshire have been vacant for six months or more.”

It’s shocking that nearly 200 council and social homes are empty.

“A few years back, this problem was being tackled. In the two years after 2013, nearly 600 empty homes were brought back into use in Shropshire. Since then, the number of empty homes in the county has been growing, not shrinking.

“Empty homes can blight communities. They make town centres look desolate once the shops close.

“It’s a disgrace that there are so many empty homes in this county. If we matched the performance of similar rural counties, we would have an extra 262 homes for people to live in. If we were as good as the best of those counties, Herefordshire, we would have an extra 814 homes available.

“Since 2011, Shropshire Council has received £30 million under the government’s New Homes Bonus scheme.

“Instead of using some of this money to bring more empty homes back into use, it has cut back on the numbers of housing staff trying to get empty homes occupied.”

More must be done to tackle housing need in Shropshire. The best place to start is by bringing these empty homes back into use. It is time for Shropshire Council to act.