On January 8th 2018 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers to three questions on homelessness, welfare reform and empty homes:
(i) The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they have taken to assess the impact of welfare reforms since 2012 on homelessness; and if such assessments have been undertaken, what were the conclusions.
Baroness Buscombe: The causes of homelessness are numerous and complex. There is currently no clear evidence of the impact of welfare reform amongst all of the other potential causes of homelessness; homelessness reflects a combination of individual, local and national factors. The Department for Work and Pensions will continue to work with the Department for Communities and Local Government to improve our understanding of local housing markets and welfare reform, helping us evaluate fully the causes of homelessness. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government announced on 30 November 2017 that his Department, working with Department for Work and Pensions, will be commissioning a feasibility study to determine how we can carry out robust and useful research into the causes of homelessness and rough sleeping.
(ii) The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of increasing tax rates on the 280,000 privately owned long-term empty homes in England on the overall quantity of housing supply.
(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of increasing tax rates on the 280,000 privately owned long-term empty homes in England on tax revenues.
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: The number of homes in England that have been empty for more than six months has reduced from over 300,000 in May 2010 to 206,236 in November 2017. The Government has announced that measures will be introduced to increase, from 50 per cent to 100 per cent, the council tax premium paid on homes empty for more than two years.