Sheffield City Council is building and acquiring more than 1,000 properties to tackle the demand for social housing, as well as raising council tax for empty properties and second residences.

Dr Emma Hock, population health expert, delivered a conference yesterday for the Sheffield Centre for Health and Related Research (SCHARR) about the effect housing insecurity has on children.

Her seminar discussed children and the many ways they are affected by housing including their health, financial and family well-being.

“It sounds like a positive move,” said Dr Hock in response to the council’s plans.

“The research is needed to show what kind of impact this can have going forward. My advice for the council would be to ultimately give people as much choice as possible about where they live and what type of accommodation they live in.”

Official Government figures from the Department for Levelling Up, housing and Communities that show a total of 277 Sheffield households were threatened with homelessness within 56 days between January and March 2022.

More than 4,000 people or families applied with Sheffield City Council to be registered as homeless last year.

Dr Hock said: “They need to try and reduce the amount of moves families have to make- which includes reducing the need for temporary accommodation where possible, including the standards of properties so that nobody feels they have to move due to property overcrowding.”

“If more council homes were made available this would give people more housing security.”

Around 275 homes would be built across the city and around 417 properties brought back into use as council stock.

The council tax rise for empty homes will apply to dwellings which have been unoccupied and “substantially unfurnished” for at least two years, and will come into effect in April.

The council’s report stated that 1,491 dwellings in Sheffield had been empty for between one and two years.

The aim of the increase was to “encourage more empty homes to be brought into productive use and increase the supply of available housing.” the report added.

The council added that the new powers would “increase the amount of council tax that it is able to collect, leading to an improvement in the council’s financial position”.

Photo credit: Dave the Steel City Snapper