Key Messages

Local Facts and Figures

  • Gross Domestic Household Income Growth for Wirral has declined dramatically from 2015 to 2016, in line with national and regional trends. As at 2016, Wirral has the lowest growth rate at -0.6% compared to Liverpool City Region (LCR) average (-0.2%), Northwest (0.5%) and National (1.5%) with the gap between Wirral and the National more than doubling, from 1% in 2012 to 2.1%. Wirral’s position of -0.6% is also the lowest reported within each LCR Authority.

  • Wirral saw the highest house price increase in the LCR (More than 15% since 2009); average price now £155,000 as of March 2018, just below the Northwest average of £155,788. There is a difference of £295,377 between the median house price in the most affluent area which is £379,050 and £83,673 for houses in the least affluent areas.

  • In 2018 the average house price in Wirral was 5.64 times annual earnings of Wirral residents, this ratio increased sharply from 5.05 the previous year, suggesting that affordable housing in Wirral is becoming more of an issue. Despite this however, Wirral’s affordability ratio is still below the Northwest (5.79) and England (7.91).

  • Wirral has one of the higher levels of vacant housing within the Liverpool City Region, with 4,955 vacant properties, only Liverpool and Sefton have more. However, a concerted effort has been made to tackle this within Wirral and numbers of vacant houses have been steadily declining with a reduction of 22.1% since 2009.

  • At a national level, Wirral ranks in the top ten for length of time that vacant dwellings remain empty (9 out of 92 Metropolitan and Unitary Local Authorities for long term vacant dwellings) with 2,097 long term vacant dwellings as of December 2018. Wirral stands at 13th for national comparison for the total number of vacant dwellings (4,955).

  • Wirral are the second highest performer within the Liverpool City Region for dwellings completed (built) although Wirral rank lowest with St. Helens for dwellings started (in progress). Nationally Wirral ranks a lowly 67 out of 92 Metropolitan Boroughs and Unitary Authorities for dwellings started (320 dwellings started) and 57 of 92 for dwellings completed, (390 dwellings completed) as of December 2018.

  • Wirral has the second highest number of net taxable properties in the Liverpool City Region, (148,466); despite this however, Wirral has seen the lowest growth in taxable properties from 2010 to 2019 at just 4.8%.

  • In 2018 Wirral had a total of 152,540 homes of which 15.2% (23,183) were affordable social homes. The number of affordable homes varies in each Wirral ward and can be up to 15% of the housing stock and as low as only 1% of local housing stock.

  • Empty properties provide a potential housing resource. Between 2004 and 2018 the number of empty properties has reduced by 14.9% from 5,825 in 2004 to 4,955 in 2018. Over the same period the number of long-term empty properties (empty for 6 months or over) has reduced by 30.1% to 903. Active intervention by the Council results in at least 250 empty properties per annum being brought back into use.

Homelessness / Rough Sleeping

  • There is a clear commitment in Wirral to the provision of supported housing for homeless people – Council has commissioned nine organisations, delivering 15 distinct services providing 391 bed spaces for both young people and adults.

  • Funding has been secured to develop an assertive outreach service for Rough Sleepers attached to the YMCA’s night shelter. The service will proactively seek out, verify and engage with rough sleepers across the borough and co-ordinate action to bring them off the streets.

  • The health of people experiencing homeless is significantly worse than that of the general population, with the cost of homelessness experienced by single people to the NHS and social care being considerable. 41% of homeless people report a long term physical health problem and 45% had a diagnosed mental health problem compared to 28% and 25% respectively in the general population.

  • Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group, in collaboration with homeless accommodation services, commissioned a number of initiatives to reduce the health inequalities experienced by homeless people and facilitate access to primary and secondary health services which include a Homeless Nurse Practitioner and a Homeless Mental Health Norse Practitioner.

  • Homeless legislation and services are undergoing significant change, following the implementation of the Homeless Reduction Act. A full review of Wirral’s Homelessness Strategy services will be completed in 2019 and will determine needs, gaps in current service provision and inform future service delivery and direct resources going forward.

  • Funding has been secured to help tackle homelessness across the Liverpool City Region, through the implementation of the ‘Housing First’ model. This model operates on the principal that housing is a basic human right and should not be used as a ‘carrot’ to ensure engagement with support, but rather that other support needs are easier to address when someone has secured stable housing. This will commence as a first phase test and learn approach, providing services for up to 60 clients.

  • The Council has completed a procurement exercise of supported housing provision in the borough for people experiencing or at risk of social exclusion. More flexible and responsive services which deliver interventions enabling homeless people with multiple complex needs have been commissioned.

  • Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) ‘Trailblazer’ funding has been awarded to the Liverpool City region to enable the enhancement of Housing Options teams within the LCR to proactively target those households that have been assessed as being at an increased risk of homelessness at an earlier stage that current resources allow. This should positively impact on the number of households who become homeless.

Availability and Accessibility of Accommodation

  • The Council us currently updating its Strategic Housing Market Assessment which will enable it to reflect the needs, in planning terms of different household groups such as first time buyers and older people. It will also determine how much new housing including affordable housing is required in the borough.

  • Registered Providers who have affordable homes in the borough are strategically supported regarding a wide range of matters including their existing affordable social housing stock profiles and future development of new stock.

  • Engagement with agencies such as Homes England continues to take place to ensure funding opportunities are maximised in relation to potential development of new homes in the borough.

  • A range of opportunities such as utilising existing Council land and / or building assets, development partnerships with private developers to regenerate neighbours and the provision of affordable housing through the planning system continue to be reviewed, considered and taken forward to provide new affordable housing in the borough.

  • Since the beginning of 2015, then 1,154 affordable homes have been built in the borough of which 591 were funded through grant provided by either Wirral Council Capital Programme or Homes England funding. This represents 49% of the total homes built in the borough since 2015.

  • The Property Pool Plus policy was amended to take into account the new statutory provision within the Homeless Reduction Act. In addition, the policy is in the early stages of a more detailed review to ensure it supports strategic aspiration around access to housing for Wirral Council and the City Region.

Quality of Accommodation

  • Tackling empty residential properties is a priority for Wirral Council and forms part of the Corporate Plan with a clear target to bring 1,250 empty properties back into use between 2015 and 2020.

  • Proactive work continues to take place to assist property owners return their property to use through schemes developed to enable owners to decide which option is the most suitable for their circumstances (advice and support, financial assistance, dispose of properties through the Developers List)

  • Legislation enabling Councils to charge a council tax premium to owners of empty properties in order to encourage owners to return their properties into use has been introduced by Wirral Council. From 1st April 2019 Wirral Council charges an additional 100% council tax on properties which have been empty for two years or more.

  • In 2015 Selective Licensing of private rented properties commenced in four small areas in Wirral. The scheme is designed to reduce low housing demand by driving up standards within the worst tenure of housing for property condition. 1,300 properties have now been licensed. An additional scheme commenced in April 2019 focusing on a further four small areas has since been introduced.

  • Fuel Poverty and Energy efficiency remains a priority for Wirral Council to address. A contract is in place with Energy Projects Plus to focus on improving heating and insulation standards within properties linking in with a range of other schemes such a Heating and renovation loans.

Supporting evidence
  • Moving to healthy homes (December 2023)
    This Health Foundation briefing examines the problems caused by 'non-decent' housing, overcrowding and access to housing. It sets out the health case for change, outlines the principles to create healthy homes (including through the Decent Homes Standard), and calls for a long-term strategy to ensure healthy homes for all

  • Delivering health and care for people who sleep rough: going above and beyond (Kings Fund 2020)
    People who sleep rough have some of the worst health outcomes in England. We explore how four local areas are delivering effective health and care services to people sleeping rough and what other areas might be able to learn from them. This research by Kings Fund describes the issues - research - implications and prompts for local leaders

  • Wirral Council and Selective Licensing for Privately Rented properties (September 2018) Phase 2 
    Wirral introduced its first Selective Licensing Scheme on 1st July 2015 in 4 small areas, and in October 2018, Councillors agreed to extend Selective Licensing into another four areas.  This business case and consultation report make the case for extending into four new areas which are experiencing the worst symptoms of low demand and poor property condition in the borough, and the new scheme will be live from 1st April 2019.

  • Wirral Council and Selective Licensing for Privately Rented properties (October 2014) Phase 1
    The private rented sector is the only housing option available to some of the most vulnerable people in society. However, in some areas, properties in the private rented sector suffer from poor conditions and anti-social behaviour, which are both a consequence and a cause of low demand. The Housing Act 2004 attempted to counter this by introducing the concept of Selective Licensing for privately rented properties in designated areas in order to improve both the lives of tenants and communities A wide range of evidence from a variety of relevant data sources, including low demand and ASB has been compiled in this document to help identify potentially up to four Wirral LSOAs which would be most appropriate to become areas of Selective Licensing. These evidence reports underpin this decision making process.

  • Wirral's latest Home Energy Conservation reports for 2017
    The Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) 1995 requires Local Authorities to identify practicable and cost-effective measures likely to result in significant energy reduction in all residential accommodation in their area. View Wirral's latest 2017 report

  • Health Needs Assessment for Homelessness in Liverpool City Region (May 2014)
    Liverpool Public Health Observatory was commissioned by the Merseyside Directors of Public Health to deliver this Health Needs Assessment of homelessness in Liverpool City Region. This followed concerns that the recent economic downturn and changes to welfare provision were negatively impacting on housing security across the region.

  • Under one roof? Housing and public health in England (February 2014)
    With an increasing focus on integration, this viewpoint from the Housing Learning and Improvement Network explores the case for housing as keystone of local public health strategiesacross England. Now that public health is part of local government, the briefing explores what more could be done to strengthen links with housing departments. 

  • Show some warmth: exposing the damaging impact of energy debt on children (January 2015)
    This report presents new evidence on the key issues facing families in energy debt who have fallen behind on their gas and electricity payments, based on a survey of around 2500 families with children in the UK and in-depth interviews with families in energy debt, including parents and children. 

Previous content

Housing JSNA: Latest Update (November 2015)
This update on local housing related need is based upon the regular update of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment Technical Appendix. This approach will shortly be superseded by the production of the evidence base for the updated Wirral Housing Strategy which is underpinned by the same technical appendix with enhanced assessment and insight.

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