Simon Danczuzh is the Labour MP for Rochdale, and believes the amount of empty properties is seriously costing the public.
He said "The government is expected to spend another £70 million this year in business rates on it's empty properties, which, at the last count, number around 550. That's 456,000 square meters of empty space that's doing nothing except cost the taxpayer".
Empty Homes is an independent charity working to help communities make use of empty properties and bring empty homes back to life. They create housing and community and leisure spaces out of empty unused buildings. They say there are 1.7 million families on the waiting lists for housing and that renovating existing empty properties is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than building new properties.
David Cameron launched the 'Business in You' initiative in January 2012, a scheme pledging to make 300 empty government buildings available to small businesses and entrepreneurs at low rates for a period of one year.
Communities Minister Andrew Stunnel said, "The number of empty homes in this country is a national disgrace. For every two families that need a home there is one standing empty. Empty homes bring down a neighbourhood and attract vandals and fly tipping as well as being a waste of much needed housing".
He announced in May 2012 that 20 councils will each receive a share of a £60 million pot to tackle the problem of empty properties across the nation. Councils included in the selected 20 to receive funding are Middlesborough, Cumbria and Barrow.
In 2007, Newcastle City Council launched a project to reduce the amount of empty properties in the city. Since then, the council have managed to reduce the number of empty properties by 20%. In 2001 2.25% of the properties were unoccupied for over six months and by 2011 this percentage reduced to 1.8%.
A statement from Newcastle City Council said "Newcastle City Council takes the issue of empty homes very seriously and we coordinate our activities through the Empty Homes Working Group, which brings together key partners.
"We have successfully brought back into use 177 properties in the first six months of 2011/12, of which almost 30% were vacant for longer than six months.
"We now have the lowest percentage of empty homes of the five Tyne & Wear local authorities and the second biggest reduction in empty homes between 2004 and 2011 within the English core cities."