MORE than 1,000 homes have been left empty for more than six months in Barnsley as the number continues to rise year-on-year despite an ever-growing council house waiting list.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures show 1,083 homes in Barnsley were long-term empty as of October an increase from 1,011 during the same period in 2022.

The figures cover the number of dwellings 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 over 263,000 properties registered as second homes, with 62 of them in Barnsley.

Coun Wendy Cain, cabinet spokesperson for public health and communities, told the Chronicle the council are working on bringing some of those empty homes back into use.

She added: “We recognise that there are many private houses in Barnsley that are currently empty, and there can be lots of different reasons for this.

“We are working with landlords and homeowners to help them bring properties back into use.”

“We believe that everyone in the borough deserves a decent and affordable place to live and we are working hard to increase the supply and diversity of housing options in Barnsley.”

Action on Empty Homes said the fact more than half a million properties are vacant or used as second homes, while more than 100,000 families across the country are in temporary accommodation, is a ‘national disgrace’.

It called on the government to introduce a new national empty homes programme to create additional housing supply for those most in need.

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.

“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.”

The increase in the number of empty homes comes despite the council house waiting list topping more than 10,500 people.

However, it’s anticipated the number will drop to 3,315 in December as the council clear out-of-district and low-priority applications which have lapsed over time.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, 28,419 homes were long-term vacant, which was 3.8 per cent more than last year.

Separate figures show 55 homes owned by private registered providers in Barnsley, which are self-contained social and affordable rent houses, were vacant in 2022.

Matt Downie, chief executive at charity Crisis, added: “The country has been crying out for genuinely affordable homes for years now.

“With the number of households trapped in temporary accommodation at a record high, having thousands of properties sitting unnecessarily empty for long periods is an open goal for the Westminster government, if it wants to bring these numbers down.

“Our research shows that if councils were given the necessary tools and funding, backed by a concerted effort from government to repurpose properties through a national empty homes initiative, we could provide 40,000 additional homes over the next four years to people who are homelessness or at risk.”