Hundreds of homes in East Hampshire have been sitting empty for more than six months, amid a housing crisis which has left scores of people across England trapped in temporary accommodation.
Campaign group Action on Empty Homes called the latest figures "shocking", after they revealed long-term empties across the country have risen to the highest level in a decade outside of the coronavirus pandemic.
Data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities shows at least 426 homes liable for council tax in East Hampshire had been unoccupied for at least six months at the most recent count in October.
It meant the number of homes gathering dust for at least half a year has increased by 37% from 311 in 2021, and 35% compared to 316 in 2012.
The properties deemed long-term empty were among a total of 1,269 vacant homes counted in East Hampshire in October.
Owners of properties which have lain empty for two years or more can be charged an extra 100% council tax on top of their bill – rising to as much as 300% if the home has been empty for a decade or longer.
Across England, there were 676,500 vacant properties at the latest count.
Some 248,600 (37%) of these had been lying empty for six months or more – the highest number since 2012, excluding 2020, when the pandemic caused a temporary shutdown in the housing market.
Chris Bailey, national campaign manager for Action on Empty Homes, said: "After more than a decade of intense housing crisis it is shocking to see long-term empty homes in England rise to 250,000 – another 11,000 more wasted empties, while nearly 100,000 families are trapped in temporary accommodation, costing the nation over £1.5 billion pounds a year.
"A new national empty homes programme is long overdue – the Government needs to step up to the plate and offer funding and incentives to get these homes back into use."
He added that long-term empty homes are a "huge missed opportunity" to create new jobs through low-carbon retrofitting.
Separate DLUHC figures show 94,870 households were in temporary accommodation at the end of June – including 103 in East Hampshire.
And between April and June, 61 East Hampshire households were entitled to support after becoming homeless or being put at risk of homelessness, putting them among 69,180 across England.
A DLUHC spokesperson said the Government is "taking action to get empty homes back into use" and added that the number of long-term empty homes is lower than when records began in 2004.
They said: "The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill gives councils power to apply the 100% council tax premium on properties left empty after a year, rather than the current two years. This will provide local leaders with additional flexibility to help address the impacts of empty homes."