UK Councils spent £74 million maintaining empty buildings in two years
Councils across the UK have spent £74million in just two years on maintaining 6,000 EMPTY buildings
- More than 6,000 empty commercial properties are still maintained by councils
- Councils spent £74 million on maintaining these buildings in the past two years
- One project, Aberdeen Art Gallery, has cost its council more than £30million
Cash-strapped councils frittered away £74million in taxpayers’ money on empty shops, offices, warehouses and other commercial buildings in just two years, an investigation found.
More than 6,000 commercial properties that are no longer used by local authorities continue to be owned and expensively maintained by taxpayers.
The price of keeping unwanted offices, shops and other business buildings includes the cost of security, routine maintenance, insurance and refurbishment.
Cash-strapped councils spent £74million in taxpayers’ money on empty shops, offices, warehouses and other commercial buildings in just two years
The report by the TaxPayers’ Alliance said the cost of publicly-owned empty commercial buildings is an indicator of which towns and cities are suffering especially badly from the disappearance of high street businesses and the storage warehouses that once supplied them.
The crisis has been highlighted by the Daily Mail’s Save Our High Streets campaign, which has called for measures to protect the dwindling number of bricks-and-mortar stores across the country.
Alliance chief John O’Connell said: ‘Councils have a duty to maintain properties for future tenants and owners, so of course some costs will be involved.
‘Many people will be startled by the total cost of maintaining empty properties and want an explanation as to why these have not been used or sold by the council. At a time when families are struggling with the cost of living, and sky high council tax bills, it is important that local authorities do all they can to ensure that they are making decisions with taxpayers in mind.’
The report said the cost of publicly-owned empty commercial buildings is an indicator of which towns and cities are suffering especially badly from the disappearance of high street businesses
The findings said that between January 2016 and December 2017 councils in the UK were sitting on 6,047 empty commercial buildings, at a cost to taxpayers of £74,022,381.
The highest bills came for renovation of buildings ready for new users. One project alone, Aberdeen Art Gallery, has cost more than £30million.
The highest concentrations of council-owned empty commercial properties were in Scotland and Wales. Empty commercial property numbers and costs, the report said, were ‘an indication of those regions, counties and towns which are especially suffering from emptying high streets’.
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