UK Councils are facing an uphill battle to accommodate Afghan refugees, according to Telegraph reports.
Whitehall and local council sources said that the average size of families arriving in Britain as part of the country’s resettlement scheme was almost seven people, often including young children.
“To resettle them appropriately we need to find relatively large numbers of three, four, or even five bedroom houses, and those houses are in short supply for councils, or even in the private rented sector,” said a Whitehall source.
Ministers and council leaders are now holding talks about a range of options to accommodate Afghan families, including local authorities renting private homes, purchasing additional properties, or even constructing buildings that could accommodate families in the longer term.
But according to the latest figures, there could be up to half a million homes across the UK that are being left unused, with campaigners urging the government to re-think their housing strategy.
Figures from the Ministry of Housing show Cornwall has a total of 16,713 homes out of regular use, the highest of any local authority in the country, accounting for one in every 16 properties.
While 13,642 of these include second homes, 3,071 were classified separately as long-term empty (left vacant for six months or longer), up from 2840 last year.
One in nine homes in the wealthy west London borough of Kensington and Chelsea are out of regular use, with 1,306 long-term empty properties and 9,045 second homes.
“We need to stop building homes for investors”
Chris Bailey, from charity Action on Empty Homes, told Metro.co.uk: “Government has praised increased rates of housebuilding, but numbers of both empty homes and homeless families keep on rising.
“If we are building more homes and both homelessness and numbers of empty homes are still rising, then we are getting housing wrong in this country. We are building the wrong housing to meet the most urgent needs.
“We need to stop building homes for investors and start building and renovating the homes that we need for the 98,300 families and their 129,000 children who are stuck in overcrowded and unsuitable temporary accommodation.
“Government needs to back councils with investment and with improved powers to bring empty homes into use, where owners won’t or can’t.
“Keeping half a million homes empty in the middle of a housing crisis, which is worsening as coronavirus destroys jobs and lives, simply makes no sense.”