THE LIBERAL Democrats have announced plans which they believe would tackle the problem of long-term empty homes.

The latest government statistics show that there were 2,788 homes left vacant, long-term, in Leeds in 2018.

The Lib Dems are proposing to allow Leeds City Council to increase council tax by up to 500 per cent on long-standing empty properties, with the money raised then being used to build new homes or invest in services.

The party’s Leeds North West Parliamentary candidate, Kamran Hussain, said: “People are worried about the lack of genuinely affordable homes. But they are being priced out of the area because of the shocking rise of empty homes.

“Wealthy owners are treating these as financial assets rather than places to live. We will fix the housing market and tackle the issue.”

Green Party candidate Martin Hemingway said: “While no homes should remain empty, and this mechanism may help, the legislation required to deal with the range of reasons a property might be empty would be complex. What is needed is low cost social housing and our proposals to build 100, 000 zero-carbon social housing units a year, and to extend renter’s rights, are more relevant ways of dealing with the crisis.”