Long-term empty homes in Bolton have been branded a “criminal waste” after rising by more than 200 in a year.

The most recent figures show that there are now 1,851 homes in the borough classed as “long-term empty” as of October, a rise from 1,642 last year.

This comes not long after concerns were raised about census findings showing the number of empty homes overall in Bolton to be more than 7,000.

Cllr Sean Fielding, who raised these concerns last month, said: “I don’t think people in Breightmet, or across the borough, would be surprised to hear the stats show an increase in empty homes.

“People that get in touch with me are living with the consequences of them, whether it’s the fly tipping in the front gardens or the antisocial behaviour.

The Bolton News: Another empty house on Wasdale Avenue, BreightmetAnother empty house on Wasdale Avenue, Breightmet (Image: Public)

“It’s also a criminal waste when there is a shortage of homes nationally.”

He added: “The Government trumpets its record on housing, but it’s not being felt here.

“Local councils and housing associations could bring many of these back in to use, but need to be given the powers and money to do it.”

The figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show a total of 1,851 homes were long term empty as of October this year.

There were also 461 homes registered as “second homes” in Bolton, while separate figures showed 420 homes owned by private registered providers were vacant in the borough in 2022.

“Long term” refers to homes that have been unoccupied for more than six months, not including those empty because of flooding or left by people in prison.

Across the North West as a whole, 42,454 homes were long-term vacant, which was 4.3 per cent more than last year.

Nationally, more than 261,000 homes were long-term empty, an increase of five per cent.

ALSO READ: 'Boarded up, empty' homes spark alarm with thousands still on waiting lists

ALSO READ: More staff and investment to bring into use Bolton's boarded up homes

ALSO READ: Rising number of 'empty homes' in Bolton sparks concerns

But the government has said that it has tried to ensure that councils all around the country have the power to deal with empty homes.

A Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities spokesperson said: “We have reduced the number of long-term empty homes by more than 50,000 since 2010 by giving councils powers to bring empty properties back into use, delivering new homes for communities.

“Councils can increase council tax by up to 300 per cent on long-term empty properties, and take over empty homes by Compulsory Purchase Orders and Empty Dwelling Management Orders.

“We recently laid out an ambitious long-term plan for housing and are on track to deliver one million homes this Parliament.”