Layla Moran has called for Oxford City Council to "step up" after a Liberal Democrat investigation revealed that almost 47,000 homes nationwide have been left vacant for over 5 years, including 27 in Oxford.
The news comes despite devastating new government statistics which revealed that 127,000 children across England faced being homeless at New Year.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has declared a "national emergency" and demanded urgent action to alleviate the housing crisis to ensure "every child has the security of a warm home."
The figures collated from over 300 local authorities, uncovered by Liberal Democrat freedom of information requests, also reveal there are a staggering 12,889 homes that have been empty for 10 years or more while there are 313,792 long-term empty homes [defined as over 6-months] across the country.
Oxford City Council has 6 homes empty for 10 years or more, 27 empty for 5 years or more and a total of 545 currently considered to be long-term empty.
However, the Liberal Democrat investigation revealed that only 21 councils - fewer than 1 in 10 councils - across the country have made use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO) in the past five years. These are the powers used by local authorities to take over properties that have been empty for at least six months*. Oxford City Council has not used EMOS despite having 545 long-term empty homes.
As part of the party’s plan to alleviate the housing crisis, the Liberal Democrats are calling for legislation to allow local authorities to increase council tax by up to 500% where properties are being left vacant long-term. The revenues would then be used to build new homes for the community or to invest in local services.
Commenting, Layla said:
"Communities up and down the country, including our own, are being torn apart because affluent owners are treating these properties as financial assets.
"Instead, these homes could be turned into affordable places to live for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We are in the midst of a housing crisis here in Oxfordshire, and the city council needs to step up to play its part in fixing it.
“People deserve better. That's why Liberal Democrats are demanding councils are given the powers and resources we set out in our manifesto to bring empty homes back into use."
Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:
“It is impossible to imagine how hard it is, especially at this time of year, for the tens of thousands of children struggling to get by without somewhere to call home.
"This housing crisis is a national emergency. Tory Ministers should hang their heads in shame. Urgent action is needed now to ensure every child has the security of a warm home."