MAKING the 101 Worcester homes left empty for more than two years available to the market, either to buy or rent, would make a significant impact on the housing shortage in the city – which would then lessen the need to build new properties which swallow up green space.

It is for that reason that Worcester City Council – and central government – should be applauded for their steps to punish homeowners who allow their property to remain unoccupied for so long, by doubling their council tax bill.

Of course there can be a good reason for a property being unoccupied for so long, such as the owner dying and their home not being left to anyone in a will and a lengthy probate case then ensuing.

But when it’s simply a case of the owner not bothering to do anything with the property, or hanging onto it in the hope that market prices may rise, that’s unfair on the hundreds of people waiting to get onto the property ladder in Worcester.

So it’s right that the owner is given a nudge, in the form of doubled council tax, to take action and either sell, rent out or occupy the property. We need more homes in the city.