AN MP has called the number of empty homes in Wigan “a scandal” despite a decrease in unused properties across the borough.
Figures show there were 4,520 vacant homes in Wigan in October 2014, compared to 4,970 12 months earlier and 5,190 in October 2012.
Research also shows the number of long-term unused properties which have been vacant and mostly unfurnished for more than six months has plunged to 1,681 in October 2014 compared to 1,871 the previous year and 2,266 12 months before that.
However, Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue said the number of homes lying unused was still far too high and urged action, a call echoed nationally by the GMB union.
Ms Fovargue said: “It is a scandal that over 4,500 properties are empty across Wigan.
“These homes, which could house thousands of people, are being left unoccupied, so we need to work more closely with owners of vacant properties and consider imposing tougher penalties on properties that remain vacant for more than a year.
“For many families the dream of home ownership is fading into the distance and those who rent have a large chunk of their take-home pay eaten up by the cost of putting a roof over their heads.”
The figures also showed a reduction in vacant homes across Greater Manchester, down to 34,724 in October 2014 from more than 57,800 in October 2008.
The GMB said the numbers of empty properties were “beyond belief” at a time when the population is increasing and waiting lists are growing.